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. You can keep up with her work on social media through Twitter and tumblr.

During the legislative session, Ashton focuses on the state Senate, bringing daily reports from the inner-workings of the state’s upper house on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s nightly television show The Legislature Today.  She also hosts the show, interviewing lawmakers, lobbyists and leading a roundtable discussion focused on the top stories of the week with her colleagues from the Capitol press corps.

Ashton served as the producer and host of Viewpoint, West Virginia Public Broadcasting's 10-week political talk show in the fall of 2014. The weekly, hour-long program included in-depth interviews with candidates, analysis and a reporter roundtable leading up to the 2014 general election. 

Ashton has most recently received national attention for her coverage of the January 9, 2014, chemical spill in Charleston. Her work was featured on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, WBUR's Here & Now, KCRW's To The Point, the PBS NewsHour and Al Jazeera America. She was named the 2014 Associated Press "Outstanding Reporter of the Virginias."

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, WV, 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. She covered government for the P.I. Reed School of Journalism’s bi-weekly newscast WVU News and also served a semester as the WVPBS bureau reporter.

 

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Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members of the West Virginia House of Delegates voted 55 to 44 Wednesday to repeal the state's prevailing wage as dozens of union members looked on from the gallery.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The West Virginia Senate unanimously approved four supplemental appropriations bills Wednesday that aim to balance the 2016 budget.

All four bills were presented to the chamber at the request of Governor Tomblin in the hopes of making up for the state's $384 million budget gap. The gap is partially due to declining income from the state's severance taxes on coal and natural gas.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The Senate's Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has approved a bill that aims to expand access to broadband internet services across West Virginia, even though industry representatives continue to express opposition to the bill. 

At the legislature today, a nearly 400 million dollar budget deficit in looming over our guests tonight, the chairs of the House and Senate Finance Committees.

Sen. Mike Hall and Del. Eric Nelson share their thoughts on how to make up for the shortfall.

Also, it was broadband day at the statehouse as West Virginians young and old focused on how to expand access to the necessary utility.

At the legislature today, members of the West Virginia Senate welcome a new member to the chamber after Supreme Court ruling Friday, a ruling that called for a Republican to be appointed. We focus in on fracking tonight with a special report detailing the updated version of a bill that died in a rare tie on the final night in 2015, and General James Hoyer joins us to discuss the latest after the weekend’s winter storm.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Warming stations and shelters are open in counties across West Virginia in preparation for expected power outages as Winter Storm Jonas continues to drop heavy snow on the southern and western regions of the state. Shelter locations are listed below by county. 

@cline2 / Twitter

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Brenton, W.Va., resident Sue Cline to fill the vacancy left in the West Virginia Senate after Daniel Hall's resignation.

Cline's appointment comes after a decision from the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Friday ordering Tomblin to appoint a Republican to the seat. 

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Snow kayaking, stuck snowplows and scenes that belong in a snow globe -- these are just some of the images and videos being shared here in West Virginia during Blizzard 2016.

West Virginia Legislative Photography

Republicans will maintain their majority in the state Senate after the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals  issued an order Friday morning.

The order calls on Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to appoint a Republican to replace former Sen. Daniel Hall who resigned this month.

State of West Virginia

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin transitioned his declared State of Preparedness to a State of Emergency Friday morning for all 55 counties in West Virginia.

The declaration allows the governor to mobilize additional resources to handle the severe weather.

The Legislature Today
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  On The Legislature Today, West Virginia is one step closer to becoming a Right to Work state after a vote on the Senate floor. And members of the House will consider another union opposed bill next week, a repeal of the state’s prevailing wage. The minority leaders of both chambers join us tonight to discuss these controversial bills and others they’ll proposed to the GOP majority. That conversation coming up on The Legislature Today.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

West Virginia is one step closer to becoming the 26th state with a Right-to-Work law after a vote in the state Senate today. Senators approved the West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act on a vote of 17  to 16, on party lines.

Map as of 6:10 a.m., January 24.
National Westher Service

A foot or more of snow has fallen across parts of West Virginia, but winter weather advisories issued by the National Weather Service have all expired as a large winter storm moves out of the state. 

On the latest episode of The Legislature Today, Speaker Tim Armstead discusses  two bills union members across the state are speaking out against: Right-to-Work and a repeal of the state's prevailing wage. Both are measures the Republican supports.  

The Legislature Today
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this episode of The Legislature Today, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Tuesday in the case to replace former state Senator Daniel Hall. 

The Legislature Today
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In the first episode of The Legislature Today of 2016, host Ashton Marra sits down with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to discuss how he is proposing the state close a $381 million budget gap expected by the end of the fiscal year. 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin gave his final state of the state address before a Joint Session of the West Virginia Legislature last night. Tomblin spent most of his speech highlighting administrative successes of the past year and previewing some minor pieces of legislation he will ask lawmakers to consider this year.

But, while it was brief, it’s the governor’s budget proposal that’s receiving the most attention from members of the Legislature. The Democratic Governor is asking a Republican Legislature to increase taxes in order to balance not just next year’s budget, but to dig the state out of its current multi-million dollar hole. 

West Virginia University

A West Virginia University professor says the 2016 economic outlook for the state of West Virginia is bleak. That is unless lawmakers begin to make some changes.


Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has scheduled oral arguments in the case over replacing a state Senator who resigned earlier this month. 

Sen. Daniel Hall of Wyoming County resigned from his seat on Jan. 3. Hall, a Republican, had switched his party affiliation after the 2014 mid-term elections giving the West Virginia GOP a majority in the upper chamber for the first time in more than 80 years. 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

UPDATE: Watch the recording  of the oral arguments here.

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