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

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.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Congressman Evan Jenkins has announced he’ll run against Sen. Joe Manchin in 2018. 

The two-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives announced he’ll run against Manchin for his seat in 2018 in a 3 minute video sent out by the Jenkins campaign Monday afternoon.

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.

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