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

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Legislative leaders in both the House and Senate have agreed to a 12-day recess in their special budget session while they continue to negotiate a deal with Gov. Jim Justice. 

Members voted to adjourn until June 5, leaving the leaders of both caucuses in both chambers to continue to work on a budget plan.

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members of the Senate’s Finance Committee were presented with some hard numbers Tuesday about the impacts their tax reform plan will have on the overall state budget.

The chamber has presented and voted on similar plans over the last several months, and, even with a clear message from the House that Delegates won’t support the measure, the upper chamber will likely vote on an almost identical bill again Wednesday. 

West Virginia Governor's Office

Gov. Jim Justice expanded the special session call for the second time Tuesday, May 23, adding seven more bills – including his budget for the 2018 fiscal year.

The executive message with those bills was read in the Senate Tuesday morning, but not introduced. The bills were referred to committees in the House during its afternoon floor session.

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The Senate's Select Committee on Tax Reform has voted once again to make changes to a revenue bill being floated back and forth between the House and Senate, and the committee chair says members of his caucus will not budge when it comes to their plan to eventually repeal the state's personal income tax.

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members of the House are standing their ground when it comes to tax reform. At least, that’s what House Speaker Tim Armstead said Friday after a vote in the chamber on its own version of a revenue bill.

The bill does not include any of the changes to the personal income tax Senate Republicans and Gov. Jim Justice have agreed to, but Armstead said that doesn’t mean his chamber isn’t still willing to work on a compromise.

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members of the House Finance Committee voted almost unanimously in favor of their version of a revenue bill Thursday afternoon, one that looks drastically different than one the Senate approved earlier this week.

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The House of Delegates has approved a bill to protect state workers should the government shut down in the wake of a budget impasse. 

Delegates voted 82 to 2 Thursday in favor of Gov. Jim Justice’s furlough bill—a bill that would require state workers to take off days without pay. 

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

After attempting to rally members of the Senate around his tax reform plan Tuesday, Gov. Jim Justice decided to also formally address members of the House of Delegates Wednesday.

Senators have already approved the measure to significantly alter the state’s tax code, but with only Republican support. Justice largely focused on his disappointment with Senate Democrats in his speech to the House.

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The Senate has approved a bill that would drastically restructure the state’s tax code in the hopes of balancing the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The plan has the support of Senate Republicans and Democratic Gov. Jim Justice, who switched parties before announcing his bid for the office. The bill is, however, losing its previous support from Democrats and will meet some serious opposition in the House.

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Both the House and Senate gaveled in around 11 am Monday, but without the final version of a new tax reform bill, delayed their action into the afternoon, and then into Tuesday.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael said the legislation was sent by the Governor’s Office to bill drafting—an arm of the state’s legislative services division—but was in the wrong format and staffers needed additional time.

West Virginia Governor's Office

As members of the West Virginia Legislature return to Charleston Monday to continue their work on the 2018 budget, Gov. Jim Justice has added two bills to the special session call.

The first of those bills is to increase the consumer sales and use tax on motor vehicles. 

The second is bill to allow the governor to furlough state employees in the wake of a financial emergency, or a government shutdown.

Sam Owens / Associated Press

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions highlighted the importance of prevention at a stop in Charleston Thursday before a summit on the opioid epidemic. 

Sessions gave the opening remarks at the West Virginia Opioid Summit at the University of Charleston Thursday morning. 

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Senate President Mitch Carmichael believes lawmakers are getting close to a budget deal after taking a 10-day recess from the special budget session called by Gov. Jim Justice at the beginning of the month.

The Legislature returned to session May 4 for two days, but when they were unable to reach a compromise, recessed and will return Monday, May 15.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Senate President Mitch Carmichael says legislative leaders and the Governor are inching closer to a budget deal that he's "optimistic" can be approved by next week.

Carmichael says that budget deal will be based on a tax reform plan approved in the Senate last week that was voted down twice in the House.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Images

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is calling on the president to appoint a special prosecutor in the investigation into Russia’s potential tampering in the 2016 presidential race.

The call comes after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey Wednesday.

West Virginia Governor's Office

As lawmakers continue negotiating a budget deal at the state Capitol, Gov. Jim Justice took a trip to Greenbrier and Monroe counties this week to host President Donald Trump's son, Don Jr., for a hunting and fishing excursion.

According to a press release issued by the Governor's Office Wednesday, the pair hunted turkey and fished for trout while discussing “the pressing issues facing West Virginia and the United States.”

West Virginia Legislative Photography

A West Virginia reporter was arrested at the state Capitol Tuesday before a meeting held by U.S. Health and Human Services Sec. Tom Price.

Dan Heyman of the Public News Service was charged with a misdemeanor offense of willfully disrupting a governmental process.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting


West Virginia’s opioid overdose death rate is two and a half times the national average, the highest in the country. Last year, 864 West Virginians died from an overdose, up by more than 17 percent from the year prior.

 

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Sec. Bill Crouch shared those statistics at a press conference Tuesday. Crouch hosted U.S. Health and Human Services Sec. Tom Price for a closed-door meeting about the state’s struggle with substance abuse and what the federal government can do to help.

Evan Vucci, Frank Franklin II / Associated Press

Two top officials in the Trump administration have announced stops in West Virginia this week.

Pres. Donald Trump's Health and Human Resources Sec. Tom Price and Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be in Charleston. Both stops focus on the nation's opioid epidemic.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a West Virginia University student is using his award as a Newman Fellow to aid veterans who have received less than honorable discharges. 

Research shows many of these veterans suffer from some sort of trauma which often contributes to their discharges.

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