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.

J. Tyler Franklin

Lawmakers advanced a last-minute bill funding a year of full-day kindergarten, money to repay Kentucky’s unemployment insurance loan and more funds to boost broadband internet in the state on Tuesday.

The language was added to House Bill 382, an unrelated bill that dealt with the state’s regional development assistance fund. The new version was unveiled early on the last day of this year’s legislative session, which is required to end at midnight.

The $140 million for local school districts for kindergarten funding was initially part of the controversial school choice bill passed by the legislature, but it was removed shortly before Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto period.

With significant opposition among Republicans and Democrats, the legislature narrowly overrode Beshear’s veto of the school choice bill on Monday.

Stephanie Wolf

Kentucky lawmakers voted to override most of Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s vetoes on the second-to-last day in this year’s legislative session, securing the passage of several conservative laws and shifting power from the governor to Republican officeholders.

Beshear vetoed all or part of 27 bills during the 10-day veto period that ended last weekend.

But Republican legislators easily overrode Beshear’s actions, doubling down on bills weakening open records laws, limiting worker safety rules and barring Beshear from spending federal coronavirus aid.

They also overrode Beshear’s vetoes of the state budget bill: zeroing out funding for the Commission on Women, freezing new mine safety inspector positions and giving Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, not the governor, final say on lawsuits over the budget.

LRC Media Relations

A bill requiring constables to receive training before they can wield police powers narrowly advanced on the second-to-last day of this year’s legislative session.

Constables are elected officials that have full police powers in Kentucky, like the ability to arrest people or make traffic stops, but under current law they don’t have to have police training.

House Bill 267 would only apply to constables taking office in 2023 and later.

Rep. Adam Koenig, a Republican from Covington and sponsor of the bill, said constables should have proper training.

Kyeland Jackson

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s request to defend Kentucky’s ban on a common abortion procedure, which was blocked by lower courts.

Former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin signed the state’s ban on dilation and evacuation abortions into law in 2018, but a federal court struck it down the following year, saying it would have created a “substantial obstacle” for Kentuckians seeking the procedure.

An appeals court upheld that ruling in 2020, but Cameron has sought to intervene in the case.

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Kentucky lawmakers will return for the final two days of this year’s legislative session on Monday and Tuesday to consider overriding Gov. Andy Beshear’s vetoes and passing more bills.

Over the last week, Beshear vetoed 27 bills, including a sweeping school choice measure, a bill stripping his power to fill U.S. Senate vacancies and several items in the one-year state budget.

But with Republicans controlling more than 75% of seats in the legislature, overriding Beshear’s vetoes will be easy, for the most part. It only takes a constitutional majority—half the seats, plus one, in each chamber—to override a Kentucky governor’s veto.

Lawmakers will also take up several bills that didn’t make it across the finish line before Beshear’s veto period, like measures limiting no-knock warrants, making changes to Kentucky elections and providing Louisville’s new civilian review board with subpoena power.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear issued several line-item vetoes to the budget and revenue bills on Friday, rejecting language that blocks him from spending funds from Kentucky’s share of the recent coronavirus-relief package.

Beshear also vetoed parts of the budget zeroing out funding for the Commission on Women, freezing new mine safety inspector positions and requiring the state treasurer to approve travel on the state aircraft.

The Republican-led legislature will likely override Beshear’s vetoes when lawmakers return for the final two days of this year’s session on Monday and Tuesday.

In his veto message about the executive branch budget bill, Beshear wrote that by requiring legislative approval to spend relief money, lawmakers were hindering the state’s ability to recover from the pandemic.

Ryland Barton

Gov. Andy Beshear signed 29 more bills into law on Thursday, including a measure doing away with Kentucky’s automatic transfer law, which requires minors to be tried in adult court if they are charged with gun-related crimes.

Beshear also vetoed six bills, including a resolution ratifying some of his coronavirus-related executive orders in case laws stripping the Democratic governor’s emergency powers are upheld in court.

There are two more days for Beshear to approve or reject bills before the end of his 10-day veto period. Earlier this week he vetoed bills dealing with private school scholarship tax credits, weakening the state’s open records laws and stripping his power to fill U.S. Senate vacancies.

J. Tyler Franklin

Louisville will clear out homeless camps ahead of the Kentucky Derby again.

Officials posted notices that camps on Liberty Street downtown near Wayside Christian Mission, which provides services for the homeless, and Adair Street near the airport will be dismantled on April 15.

John Miles, veteran coordinator for the Louisville Metro’s Office of Resilience and Community Services, said during a meeting of the city’s Homeless Encampment Taskforce Wednesday the camps need to come down for safety reasons.

“We definitely look at severity, the health risk factor, not only for our clients, but our pedestrians who travel underneath those overpasses,” Miles said.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear signed eight bills on Tuesday, including measures that create tougher penalties for child predators, ban the solitary confinement of pregnant inmates, and ease pension payments for quasi-state agencies like rape crisis centers and health departments.

Beshear also vetoed five bills, including one that would restrict out-of-state open records requests and another taking food assistance away from noncustodial parents who are behind on child support.

Beshear said the bills he rejected aren’t in the “public’s interest or would violate the Constitution.”

Legislators are currently on a 10-day break during the legislative session while Beshear considers vetoing or signing bills that have passed so far this year.

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Kentucky lawmakers worked right up until the deadline at midnight Wednesday morning, passing millions of dollars in tax breaks, controversial education policies, and dozens of other bills that lawmakers and other citizens are still combing through to understand.

But not everything made it across the finish line. Several bills that had been moving through the legislature are now on life support after not passing ahead of Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto period.

High-profile proposals that still haven’t passed include bills making it a crime to insult police officers, limiting no-knock warrants, ensuring liability protection for businesses during the pandemic, and banning LGBTQ conversion therapy.

J. Tyler Franklin

The Republican-led legislature passed a flurry of bills on the last day before Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto period, including more than $200 million in tax breaks, controversial education policies and a measure ensuring Mitch McConnell is replaced by a Republican if he leaves office.

And the legislature continued to weaken Beshear’s powers during the pandemic, passing a measure to fine the governor’s office more than $900,000 if it spends any federal coronavirus relief money without the legislature’s approval.

If Beshear vetoes any of the bills, lawmakers can easily override him when they return for the final two days of session on March 29 and 30.

Stephanie Wolf

Lawmakers hurried bills dealing with school choice, broadband funding and tax breaks for data centers through the Kentucky legislature ahead of Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto period, which begins at midnight.

The deadline means today is the last day the Republican-led legislature can pass bills and still have the chance to override any vetoes issued by Beshear, a Democrat.

Lawmakers will return to consider veto overrides during the final two days of the legislative session on March 29 and 30. But any bills passed on those last days won’t be veto-proof.

Here’s what lawmakers are trying to pass under the wire:

J. Tyler Franklin

With the clock ticking on this year’s legislative session, lawmakers discussed criminal justice issues like the bill limiting no-knock warrants and a measure making it a crime to insult police during a panel on KET Monday night.

The discussion came two days after the anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death, a Black woman killed by Louisville police during a middle-of-the-night raid on her apartment.

Protesters have called for lawmakers to pass a bill banning no-knock warrants, but the Republican-led legislature appears poised to only pass a bill limiting them.

Rep. Attica Scott is a Democrat from Louisville who proposed Breonna’s Law For Kentucky, a now-stalled proposal to totally ban no-knock warrants.

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Republican lawmakers released a state budget bill over the weekend that would make sure the legislature, and not Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, has final authority in deciding how federal coronavirus relief money gets spent.

Kentucky will receive about $2.4 billion from the recently-passed relief package. That money can be used for a wide range of needs like testing and vaccination programs, relief for businesses and individuals, infrastructure investment and “premium pay” for essential workers — an additional $13 per hour.

But under the Kentucky budget bill quietly filed over the weekend, Beshear wouldn’t be able to use that money unless the legislature authorized him to do so.

J. Tyler Franklin

The Kentucky Senate passed a bill on Thursday that would make it a crime to insult police officers and boost penalties for rioting.

Senate Bill 211 comes in reaction to racial justice protests in Louisville and across the state and country over the last year, and the bill’s advancement comes just short of the anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death, which sparked some of those demonstrations.

Sen. Danny Carroll, a Republican from Benton, former assistant police chief and primary sponsor of the bill, said the measure was necessary to protect police officers.

“I will not apologize for passing laws to protect the people of this commonwealth, to protect the property of the business owners in this commonwealth, to protect our first responders,” Carroll said.

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