Ashton Marra

Assistant News Director, Statehouse Reporter

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

Ashton covered the Capitol for West Virginia Public Broadcasting and could 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 hosted West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s nightly television show The Legislature Today. She also reported 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 WVPB 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 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. 

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.

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