Ryland Barton

State Capitol Bureau Reporter

Ryland is the state capitol reporter for the Kentucky Public Radio Network, a group of public radio stations including WKU Public Radio. A native of Lexington, Ryland has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. 

Always looking to put a face to big issues, Ryland's reporting has taken him to drought-weary towns in West Texas and relocated communities in rural China. He's covered breaking news like the 2014 shooting at Fort Hood Army Base and the aftermath of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. 

Ryland has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Ryland Barton

A federal court in Louisville has begun hearing arguments over a new set of abortion restrictions that passed out of the Republican-led Kentucky legislature earlier this year.

The only abortion provider in the state is suing Gov. Matt Bevin over the measure, which requires doctors to induce fetal death before performing “dilation and evacuation” abortions — the most common procedure for women seeking to end their pregnancies in the second trimester.

Public Domain

Next week, a federal court in Louisville will hear arguments over a new Kentucky law that bans a common type of abortion procedure.

Earlier this year the Kentucky legislature passed a bill banning dilation and evacuation abortions after the 11th week of pregnancy except in medical emergencies.

Gov. Matt Bevin signed the law and the ACLU sued on behalf of EMW Women’s Surgical Clinic, the state’s only abortion provider, arguing that the measure is unconstitutional.

Ryland Barton

A lawyer for former House Speaker Jeff Hoover and two other Republican lawmakers made the case on Wednesday for sealing a former staffer’s testimony that she was sexually assaulted and harassed by the men.

The woman was deposed in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by another staffer who says she was retaliated against for reporting harassment.

Now Leslie Vose, the legislators’ lawyer, argues that the former staffer violated a confidentiality agreement by talking in the deposition about allegations she had made against the men.


Republicans have held on to their majorities in the Kentucky legislature, dashing Democratic hopes for a “blue wave” in Frankfort.

Initial results show that Democrats were able to flip control of a few House districts around the state, but Republicans were able to fend off many challenges and flip a few seats in their favor as well.

Meanwhile in the Senate, Republicans were able to add to their supermajority as current Republican Rep. Robby Mills defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Dorsey Ridley in the 4th Senate district.

Ninian Reid/Flickr Creative Commons

Investigators from the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee say that a Louisville woman lied about being the author of an anonymous letter that included sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

In a referral to the Justice Department, the Judiciary Committee’s Chair Chuck Grassley said that a Louisville resident named Judy Munro-Leighton falsely claimed that she was the author of an anonymous handwritten letter that alleged Kavanaugh and another boy raped her in a car in high school.

Jacob Ryan

Kentucky’s voter registration system is running software that could be exploited by hackers, according to a new report by ProPublica.

But Kentucky’s top elections official, Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes, says the system “has been and is secure.”

The state’s voter registration system includes a file-sharing software called FTP that allows public access to information. ProPublica’s reporting says that the service can act as a gateway for hackers to acquire key details that allow them to exploit a server’s vulnerabilities.

Ryland Barton

With all seats in the state House of Representatives and half the state Senate up for re-election, Kentucky Democrats are hoping to ride a wave of opposition to Gov. Matt Bevin and the unpopular pension bill that passed this year into Frankfort.

But flipping control of either state legislative chamber will be a longshot on Election Day in a state that has become increasingly Republican in recent years and where the GOP enjoy supermajorities in both the House and Senate.

Ryland Barton

Outgoing U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan traveled to Georgetown on Tuesday to campaign for Republican Congressman Andy Barr, who’s facing a tough re-election challenge.

Ryan is the latest national political figure to stump in the race, which is considered to be a bellwether on President Donald Trump’s popularity as Democrats try to take control of the U.S. House and Republicans try to defend their majority.

Michelle Hanks

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says recent shootings at a grocery store in Louisville and a synagogue in Pittsburgh should be considered hate crimes and called for the death penalty against the accused gunmen.

Police say that Gregory Alan Bush killed two people, both black, at a Kroger in the Louisville suburb of Jeffersontown last week. Court records and social media posts suggest he had a history of making racist remarks.

Ryland Barton

Former House Speaker Jeff Hoover and two other Republican state lawmakers are trying to prevent the public release of parts of a deposition taken from a former staffer who accused them of sexually harassing her. The deposition is part of a whistleblower lawsuit filed by another staffer who says she was retaliated against for reporting harassment.

The three men — as well as one other representative who has not asked to intervene in the case — admitted to paying Jane Doe $110,000 last year in an out-of-court settlement.

Dori/Wikimedia Commons

Kentucky lawmakers are considering new regulations to require health insurers to pay for air ambulance services, even for providers that are out of insurers’ coverage network.

Getting transported to a hospital by helicopter is expensive, especially without help from a health insurance company.

Brad Salyer, a bankruptcy attorney from Bowling Green, said he received a $57,000 bill after his infant son had to be flown from a local hospital to Nashville in order to receive advanced emergency treatment.

Ryland Barton

After Kentucky lawmakers made changes to pension benefits for state workers earlier this year, some candidates are hoping to ride a wave of anger from teachers and other public workers into the statehouse.

There are at least 51 current and former educators running for seats in the legislature as all 100 districts in the state House of Representatives and half in the state Senate are up for re-election this year.

Joy Gray is a retired teacher from Owensboro who’s running as a Democrat against Republican Rep. Suzanne Miles.

Jacob Ryan

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has released voter registration totals ahead of the general election on Nov. 6.

Despite controlling a historically-low number of elected offices in Kentucky, Democrats still represent the largest chunk of voters registered in the state.

Of the 3.4 million Kentuckians registered this year, 49.6 percent are Democrats, 41.7 percent are Republicans and 8.68 percent are registered with another party or as “other,” according to the secretary of state’s office.

J. Tyler Franklin

The Kentucky Democratic Party has filed an ethics complaint against Gov. Matt Bevin for tweeting out his support for embattled Congressman Andy Barr’s reelection campaign from his official Twitter account.

On Saturday night, Bevin attended a rally in Richmond in which President Donald Trump stumped for Barr, who is running a tight race against Democratic challenger Amy McGrath.

Flickr/Creative Commons

The troubled Kentucky Wired broadband initiative received another public lashing on Thursday as state legislators weighed in on a scathing audit of the delayed and costly project.

Last month, State Auditor Mike Harmon released an examination that accused officials in former Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration of botching the procurement of Kentucky Wired, placing too much financial risk on taxpayers and creating an unrealistic timeline for completion.