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

Its 1,700-foot arch made it the longest single-span arch bridge in the world.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / New River Gorge, Fayette County, Fayette Station Road

The state’s three national parks in southern West Virginia saw more than one million visitors last year, resulting in a bump to the economies of the surrounding cities and towns. 

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Lawmakers are postponing work on the 2018 state budget another week after the House of Delegates voted to kill a tax reform measure presented by members of the Senate and Gov. Jim Justice.

The Senate voted 32 to 1 Friday afternoon in favor of the tax reform bill that was then killed in a 59 to 34 vote in the House shortly after.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Members of the House of Delegates have voted down a bill to overhaul the state’s tax system.

The bill was the key to the governor’s plan to balance the 2018 budget and died on a 59-36 vote Thursday evening.

Jesse Wright

Governor Jim Justice has not included a budget bill on his call for a special session set to begin Thursday.

Justice’s office released the call that includes five bills Wednesday afternoon.

Capitol Dome, Capitol, Legislature
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Tax collections for the state missed estimates once again in April, according to the state’s revenue secretary.

Secretary Dave Hardy said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday that tax collections came in nearly $60 million below estimates last month. That puts the state $160 million behind estimates for the 2017 fiscal year that ends June 30.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, over the weekend, Pres. Donald Trump will reach his 100 day mark in office. 

As a part of our series "100 Days in Appalachia," Beth Vorhees checks in with Dave Mistich, the managing editor of the project, about the stories they've shared in the first 100 days and what to expect in the future.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we meet members of the United Mine Workers of America's Local 1440 union in Matewan, where a group of retired miners say they don't see Pres. Donald Trump's promises  to bring coal jobs back to the region coming true. 

The group, which largely voted for Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, says coal's struggles aren't the result of former Pres. Barack Obama's policies, but of the free market.

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Gov. Jim Justice has vetoed the budget bill lawmakers approved early Sunday morning.

The bill relies on $90 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to find a balance and Justice said signing it would be like signing the state’s death certificate.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Nearly an hour after midnight on Sunday morning, the West Virginia Legislature completed action on a budget bill for the 2018 fiscal year.

The budget bill was passed, as amended in the Senate just before midnight, on a 22 to 12 party line vote. The House of Delegates concurred with those amendments on a 63-37 around 1:00 a.m. The bill now heads to Gov. Jim Justice.

Twitter / @wvgovernor

Gov. Jim Justice has announced he will veto a bill that would have effectively put an end to the greyhound racing industry in West Virginia, according to its supporters. 

Justice traveled to Wheeling to announce the veto of Senate Bill 437 Saturday morning.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Senators have approved a bill that was the subject of intense debate in the House earlier in the session—getting rid of the state’s Women’s Commission-- and once again, the chamber’s female members took a stand supporting the measure. 

On The Legislature Today, Gov. Jim Justice has extended the regular session by one day to allow lawmakers more time to work on a budget bill, but he says its unlikely the House and Senate will be able to complete a budget in that time that he would actually sign. 

The governor discusses a likely special budget session, the bills he'll present lawmakers on a session call, and his gasoline tax increase that Justice says has been "childishly" pulled from consideration in the House.

On The Legislature Today, Gov. Jim Justice has signed a proclamation to extend the regular session by one day, allowing lawmakers more time to come to a budget agreement.

During a press conference at the Capitol today, Justice said he was disappointed that a budget compromise hadn’t already been reached.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Senators voted 20-14 Wednesday, approving their Senate plan for the 2018 fiscal year. 

The bill, which contains no new revenue or a draw down from the State's Rainy Day Fund according to Senate Finance Chair Mike Hall, relies on about $160 million in cuts to government spending. 

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Both the House and Senate will be presented with their respective 2018 budget plans on the floor Wednesday, and in the House, that budget will rely on nearly $140 million in new revenue.

The revenue comes from getting rid of certain exemptions to the state’s sales tax in an effort to lower the overall rate down the road.

On The Legislature Today, medical  marijuana is one step closer to becoming legal in West Virginia after a vote in the House, but the latest version of the bill delays the program until 2019.

In the Senate, members vote unanimously to add an abortion restriction to the state’s telemedicine law.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Senators have approved a House bill that clarifies the state’s telemedicine laws, but also creates a new restriction for certain treatments.

House Bill 2509 makes it clear that doctors can treat certain diseases in minors or adults who are still enrolled in public school. 

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Senators on the chamber's Finance Committee were given their first look at the chamber's proposed budget bill Monday, which the chamber’s finance chair says relies almost solely on cuts to find a balance.

The Senate’s budget largely relies on cutting all state agencies across the board by 4 percent, but zeroing out some programs altogether. 

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members of the House Finance Committee have advanced their bill to "broaden the base and lower the rate" of the state's sales tax, a bill that the chamber is relying on to balance its 2018 budget.

Members were initially presented the latest version of Senate Bill 484 Saturday and took the bill up once again Monday morning.

On The Legislature Today, members of the House and Senate are being presented with their budget bills which the Senate Finance Chairs says look almost nothing alike.

Still, he maintains the Legislature could pass a budget by Day 60.

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