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

The Senate's Select Committee on Tax Reform has yet to take up a bill that would phase out West Virginia's personal income tax and replace the revenues with an increased sales tax. That, however, hasn't stopped the bill from becoming one of the most talked about at the statehouse this session.

Sen. Robert Karnes, the chair of that select committee, shares his take on the bill.

On The Legislature Today, the Senate's Select Committee on Tax Reform begins discussing the chair's plan to reform the state's tax code, shifting from a personal income tax to a broader consumer sales tax.

Ted Boettner with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and John Deskins with the Bureau for Business and Economic Research at West Virginia University discuss the potential benefits and risks to the plan and it impacts on West Virginians. 

The Republican majority in the Senate is starting to reveal its plan to restructure the state’s tax code. A bill introduced in that chamber Thursday would repeal the state’s income and corporate net income taxes and replace them with a higher consumer sales tax and fewer exemptions.

Gov. Jim Justice has already released his proposal to balance the state budget on tax increases and a small amount of cuts.

Minority Leaders Tim Miley and Roman Prezioso discuss the budget proposals their party will support.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A national research group says the deficiencies, congestion, and lack of safety features on West Virginia’s roadways are costing drivers in the state more than a billion dollars every year.

Gov. Jim Justice plans to drastically change that by increasing the funding to the state’s road system, but members of the Senate have mixed feelings about whether that plan can succeed.

On The Legislature Today, the Chairs of the House and Senate Finance Committees are digging deep into state agencies to find efficiencies or cuts that could potentially save the state money. 

Del. Eric Nelson and Sen. Mike Hall discuss the state's $497 million budget gap for the 2018 Fiscal Year and how they intend to fix it. 

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Senators are considering a bill that would change the eligibility for unemployment benefits for workers on strike. It’s a measure the bill’s lead sponsor says other states have adopted, but West Virginia union leaders already oppose.

Senate Bill 222 would make workers who have temporarily lost their jobs due to a strike ineligible for unemployment benefits from the state. 

On The Legislature Today, Senate President Mitch Carmichael has created a committee focused on restructuring the state's tax code and says its goal is to get rid of the state's income tax. 

Carmichael discusses his newly formed committee and his goals as the newly elected Senate President.

At the Legislature today, it's been less than a week since Gov. Jim Justice presented his plan to lawmakers to close a $497 million budget gap for the upcoming fiscal year.

House Speaker Tim Armstead shares his views on the governor's plan and the plan Legislative leaders are beginning to put together.

Nancy Andrews / West Virginia University

The stories of the hardworking, blue collar West Virginians who looked to Trump as an outsider willing to change the political order in Washington have been told by both local and national media outlets, but the question now is whether he will stick to his word.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The Senate Select Committee on Tax Reform is charged with finding a way to shift the state’s reliance on personal income tax revenue to dollars raised through increased consumption taxes. That’s according to Senate President Mitch Carmichael, who created the committee in January.

At their first meeting Friday, Carmichael told members he believes that West Virginia’s economic growth is hindered by its reliance on income taxes. 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Gov. Jim Justice has asked lawmakers to do a politically unpopular thing this state Legislative session -- raise taxes. But legislative leaders say they are still on the hunt for cuts to state government. Both the House and Senate Finance committees held meetings Thursday and heard from the Governor’s budget team, who attempted to convince lawmakers to see things the governor’s way.

Ashton Marra for Outstanding Effort by an Individual Reporter in the AP of the Virginias Awards.

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

In his first State of the State address Wednesday evening, Gov. Jim Justice presented lawmakers with a plan to close a $497 million budget gap in the 2018 fiscal year. That’s the latest estimate from the Governor’s Office about just how big that hole will be.

Justice’s proposal is largely based on increasing taxes, something he said on the campaign trail he wouldn’t do.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Lawmakers will begin their work at the statehouse today as they gavel in for the first of the 60-day legislative session.

That work  will be followed by Gov. Jim Justice’s first State of the State Address tonight where he’ll present legislators—and the public—with his legislative agenda and his plan to balance the 2018 budget. Statehouse reporter Ashton Marra discusses what to expect during the session and the governor's address.

WVU / WVU

The West Virginia Economic Outlook is presented to lawmakers each year on the first day of the session. Compiled by economists at the WVU Bureau for Business and Economic Research, in 2017 they say overall, West Virginia’s economy is starting to improve.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice waves to the crowd as he delivers his inauguration speech, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, in Charleston, W.Va.
Walter Scriptunas II / AP Photo

West Virginia’s 36th Governor Jim Justice will give his first State of the State Address to a joint meeting of the state Legislature Wednesday evening. West Virginia Public Broadcasting will carry the speech live on radio, television and online beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

StoryCorps/ Georgetown University

Nicholas Cochran, 27, and Uneeke Ferguson, 21, are students at Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, West Virginia, where they volunteer at a catholic worker home.

They discussed their childhood experiences with homelessness growing up in inner city Baltimore and Marietta, Ohio, and how volunteering has changed their views on the homeless population.

Newly elected West Virginia Board of Education President Tom Campbell, left, with state Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano, right, during Thursday's meeting.
Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Board of Education has elected a new president and vice president after a string of resignations this week. 

Former Delegate Tom Campbell was elected president of the board during an emergency meeting Thursday. A certified public accountant, Campbell was appointed by Gov. Tomblin in 2012 and after several resignations is now the board’s longest-serving member.

Nairouz Katrib
courtesy of Liu Yang

On this West Virginia Morning, Nairouz Katrib is a Syrian immigrant. She moved to West Virginia 8 years ago to study at West Virginia State University.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Patricia Harman is the author of the bestselling novel The Midwife of Hope River

A midwife herself, she was featured in an April 2016 episode of Inside Appalachia focused on the tradition of home birth in the region.

Harman's latest book – The Runaway Midwife – hits bookstore shelves Monday. 

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