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

This week in Kentucky politics: the lawsuit over the new pension law was argued in court; Kentucky’s new commissioner of education laid out his priorities, which include helping charter schools open up and taking over Louisville’s public school system; and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continued to express concern about President Trump’s tariffs leading to a full-blown trade war.


Ryland Barton

During a hearing on Thursday, the judge presiding over the lawsuit against Kentucky’s new pension law questioned why state lawmakers were able to pass the measure out of the legislature in just one day.

State law requires bills to be formally presented on three separate days before they are eligible to be voted on in the state House and Senate, though lawmakers frequently vote to override the rule.

Gov. Matt Bevin’s general counsel Steve Pitt argued the speedy process is necessary late in the legislative session.

Fons Cervera

The new leader of the Kentucky Department of Education laid out his priorities on Wednesday, including the creation of charter schools, improving student achievement and taking over Louisville’s public school system.

Interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis started his job in late April after the previous commissioner was forced out during a leadership shakeup.

Lewis said that the state shouldn’t award high school diplomas to students who can’t read at an eighth grade level.

J. Tyler Franklin

This week in Kentucky politics, Gov. Matt Bevin said he’s partnering with a former Democratic congressman to help people navigate the state’s new Medicaid rules. We found out that lobbyists set a new spending record at the state legislature as lawmakers made changes to the tax code. Plus, a state-funded aluminum mill broke ground in northeastern Kentucky and  Bevin asked for a judge to recuse himself from the lawsuit over the new pension bill.


Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

Kentucky distillers, wineries and liquor retailers can now ship wine and spirits across state lines after the legislature passed the “bourbon without borders” bill earlier this year.

The new law will allow visitors to Kentucky to ship up to 4.5 liters of spirits or 4 cases of wine back home — as long as their home state allows it.

During a ceremonial bill signing on Friday, Gov. Matt Bevin said the new law will help build the state’s signature bourbon industry.

Ryland Barton

Kentucky Republicans aren’t all on the same page when it comes to a potential state takeover of Louisville’s public school system.

Gov. Matt Bevin is in favor of it, saying that local officials haven’t been able to fix longstanding problems in the district like a pervasive gap between the academic performances of white and minority students.

Thinkstock

Gov. Matt Bevin has shuffled his leadership team again, tapping Labor Cabinet Secretary Derrick Ramsey to be the new leader of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

As the cabinet’s new secretary, Ramsey will oversee several worker training and education programs, including agencies like the Kentucky Department of Education, Kentucky Educational Television and Unemployment Insurance Commission.

In a statement, Bevin praised Ramsey’s revival of Kentucky’s apprenticeship program while leading the Labor Cabinet.

J. Tyler Franklin

The field is set for this year’s political races in Kentucky. Teachers are hopeful that a good showing during statehouse primary elections will lead to more success in the fall. And all eyes will be on Kentucky this year to watch the congressional race between retired fighter pilot Amy McGrath and incumbent Congressman Andy Barr.


Teachers in Kentucky flexed their newfound political clout in primary elections Tuesday after a series of massive protests at the state Capitol earlier this year.

High school math teacher Travis Brenda ousted one of the Kentucky legislature's top Republican leaders in a primary election. Brenda ran a campaign attacking state Rep. Jonathan Shell for his role in writing bills that weakened retirement benefits for state workers and overhauled Kentucky's tax code.

http://rtravisbrendaforkentucky.com/

A high school teacher has defeated Kentucky’s House majority leader in a Republican primary election, signaling the newfound voting power of teachers after lawmakers made changes to state worker pension benefits this year.

Travis Brenda is a 19-year teacher at Rockcastle County High School and won the 71st district GOP primary by just 123 votes.

During the campaign, Brenda attacked Rep. Jonathan Shell for helping craft the pension bill and tax reform package that passed into law this spring.

Ryland Barton

Kentucky voters will head to the polls on Tuesday to decide who will compete for seats in the state legislature this fall.

This year’s statehouse primary elections feature a handful of crowded contests for seats vacated by retiring legislators. And dozens of teachers are hoping to ride a wave of outrage into Frankfort after launching massive protests at the state Capitol this spring.

Travis Brenda has been teaching at Rockcastle County High School for the last 19 years. He lives on a farm in Cartersville in southern Garrard County. Brenda is a Republican but he said he’s disappointed in how the fully-Republican controlled legislature is doing business.


J. Tyler Franklin

This week in Kentucky politics, candidates made their final pushes ahead of next week’s primary elections. Voters across the state will weigh in on who to nominate for Congress, the state legislature and several local offices on Tuesday. Plus, Gov. Matt Bevin named a new secretary of the state health cabinet and headed off to Asia on a trade mission.


Wikimedia Commons

Next week, Kentucky voters will head to the polls to weigh in on primary elections, including who to nominate for state legislative elections this fall.

All 100 seats in the state House of Representatives and half of the 38 seats in the state Senate are up for re-election this year.

At least 40 current and retired educators are running after the legislature voted to make changes to retirement for current and future teachers and other state workers.

And a wave of retirements from the statehouse has sparked hotly contested primaries, with both of Kentucky’s major political parties hoping to flip districts in their favor.

J. Tyler Franklin

Governor Matt Bevin has launched a pilot program that will give high school graduates paid apprenticeships in Kentucky’s social services offices across the state.

The program would give apprenticeships to people interested in social work who are impacted by generational poverty or haven’t had the opportunity to go to college.

Bevin said the state needs more people working in social services.

Ryland Barton

Southern Indiana white nationalist leader Matthew Heimbach has been sentenced to 38 days in jail for violating his probation for a disorderly conduct conviction stemming from a 2016 Donald Trump rally in Louisville.

Heimbach is the founder of the Traditionalist Worker Party. Last year he pleaded guilty to physically harassing an African-American woman at the Trump rally, but a judge released him under the condition that he take anger management classes and stay out of trouble for two years.

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