Ashton Marra

Assistant News Director, Statehouse Reporter

Ashton Marra is the Assistant News Director at West Virginia Public Broadcasting, coordinating the coverage of her fellow reporters under News Director Jesse Wright, and serves as the producer for the morning news magazine West Virginia Morning. She also serves as the fill-in host of the program.

Ashton covers the Capitol for West Virginia Public Broadcasting and can be heard weekdays on West Virginia Morning with the latest statehouse news, from politics to policy and everything in between.

During the legislative session, Ashton hosts West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s nightly television show The Legislature Today. She also reports from the Senate, bringing daily reports from the inner-workings of the state’s upper house.

Ashton served as the producer and host of Viewpoint, West Virginia Public Broadcasting's 10-week political podcast fall of 2016 focused on the General Election. 

Ashton is the winner of two 2016 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for her work producing West Virginia Morning and covering the decline of the state's coal industry. She was also named the 2015 and 2016 "Outstanding Reporter of the Virginias" by the Virginias Associated Press Broadcasters Association.

Ashton's work has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, PBS NewsHour, WBUR’s Here & Now, WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, KCRW’s To the Point and other programs.

Ashton came to WVPBS in October of 2012 from ABC News’ morning program Good Morning America where she worked as a production associate. Ashton produced pieces for the broadcast, including the first identified victim of the Aurora, CO, movie theater shooting and the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, as well as multiple entertainment news stories.

Before her time at GMA, Ashton worked as an intern on ABC’s news assignment desk, helping to organize coverage of major news stories like the Trayvon Martin case, the Jerry Sandusky trial and the 2012 Presidential election. She also spent 18 months as a weekend reporter for WDTV based in her hometown of Clarksburg, W.Va., breaking the story of missing Lewis County toddler Aliayah Lunsford. Ashton’s work from that story was featured on HLN’s Nancy Grace in October of 2011.

Ashton graduated summa cum laude from West Virginia University in May of 2012, where she was named WVU’s Reporter of the Year. 

 

Ways to Connect

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Gov. Jim Justice said the legislatively approved budget for the 2018 fiscal year will become law without his signature. 

“I can’t sign this. I can’t possibly sign this," Justice said.

Joe Manchin
AP / Steve Helber

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is calling on Republican members of the U.S. Senate to open up their meetings about the new health care law, which is expected to be put to a vote in Congress before their July break. 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members of the House are not budging on reforming the state’s tax code the way Gov. Jim Justice and now Senators on both sides of the aisle want to.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members of the Senate have approved a budget for the upcoming fiscal year -- for a second time this week.

 

The bill they approved Tuesday contains no new revenue for 2018 and makes major cuts to both higher education and Medicaid in order to find a balance, but the new version of the budget bill approved Thursday night is accompanied by yet another tax reform bill that now has bi-partisan support in the state’s upper chamber.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Gov. Jim Justice is still pushing lawmakers to approve some kind of revenue increasing measure to prevent major cuts in the 2018 budget. 

That push, though, comes as members of the House and Senate are debating budget bills based solely on a newly released revenue estimate, not tax reform proposals that were once at the center of budget negotiations.

West Virginia Governor's Office

Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday the budget proposals being considered in both the House and Senate are wrong for West Virginia and will result in major cuts that hurt vulnerable citizens, but with a deadline to approve a budget in time to avoid a government shutdown quickly approaching, Justice said he would consider signing the budget sent to him. 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Wednesday, members of the House of Delegates approved their own version of a budget for the upcoming 2018 fiscal year—a budget that, much like the one approved earlier in the week in the Senate, does not include any new revenue from various tax reform measures debated between the two chambers for weeks.

Instead, the House used the increased revenue estimate sent this week by Gov. Jim Justice’s Office to members of the Senate as the base for its $4.225 billion budget.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

After yet another day of back and forth between the House and Senate, Speaker Tim Armstead says lawmakers are now close to an agreement on the 2018 budget.

And that agreement could likely come without the passage of any tax reform measures. 

West Virginia Governor's Office

Gov. Jim Justice sat the head of a long table in his conference room Monday afternoon, surrounded by reporters and members of his staff. It’s the same room that nearly three months ago Justice declared his budget war room, inviting members of the Legislature to join him and his staff each morning to hammer out a deal.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members of a legislative conference committee will continue their work Monday, trying to come to an agreement over tax reform. The conference committee was assembled Wednesday and, according to Legislative rules, must finish their work by Saturday, but lawmakers voted to suspend those rules Friday, allowing the committee to meet over the weekend. 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Gov. Jim Justice took questions from a legislative conference committee Thursday that is working on a compromised version of his tax reform plan, a rare appearance at the statehouse.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Legislators have assembled a conference committee to work out the final details of a tax reform bill that has been at the center of budget negotiations at the statehouse for months. 

Lawmakers have spent since the end of the regular session in March formally-- and informally-- negotiating the tax reform bill that began in the state Senate. The Senate Republican-backed plan largely aims to repeal the personal income tax in exchange for a higher consumer sales tax.

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

An audit of the WVOASIS system says the state has wasted millions of dollars on consultants for the computer operating system.

The legislative audit was released to lawmakers during an interim committee meeting Tuesday. 

West Virginia Governor's Office

State revenue officials have released new income projections for the 2018 fiscal year, but are basing those numbers largely on legislation that has yet to be approved by lawmakers during a special session.

Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy released the updated projections for the 2018 fiscal year Tuesday, increasing previous estimates by nearly $170 million.

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Gov. Jim Justice spent hours caucusing with House Democrats Monday morning as a special budget session continued at the statehouse. 

House Minority Leader Tim Miley said the governor spent more than two hours discussing his latest plan to balance the 2018 budget.

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A group of Republican delegates have introduced a bill to dissolve the greyhound breeders fund, giving lawmakers an additional $14 million to use to balance this year’s budget. 

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Budget negotiations are continuing at the Capitol Thursday after a new revenue deal was presented to lawmakers earlier in the week. 

Gov. Jim Justice presented the new revenue bill to lawmakers Tuesday. The plan has been at the crux of budget negotiations between his office and members of both the House and Senate.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Charleston area has lost construction jobs at the second-fastest rate in the nation according to a survey from the Associated General Contractors of America.

A representative of the national group presented the results of the survey of 358 metro areas at the Capitol Wednesday, accompanied by West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Tom Smith.

Flood, Greenbrier
Steve Helber / AP Photo

Flood-affected communities in southern West Virginia are receiving federal aid to help clean up brownfield sites for future development. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

“I know it was raining hard when I got off the interstate.”

Richard Wolfe said he doesn't remember a lot about the evening of June 23, 2016. He was visiting his sister in Charleston when he decided to heard toward his home of more than 70 years on Koontz Street in Clendenin during a severe storm that would result in historic levels of flooding for the community. 

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