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


On The Legislature Today, Gov. Jim Justice says he or members of his staff will be in his “war room” every morning through the end of the legislative session, inviting lawmakers from both parties to join him to work on a budget.

 

This morning was the first of those meetings and while some lawmakers did attend, they were all members of the Democratic Party.

West Virginia Governor's Office

Gov. Jim Justice joined energy workers from across West Virginia for a rally at the Capitol Tuesday morning to promote the natural gas industry in the state.

On The Legislature Today, during his State of the State Address, Gov. Jim Justice presented lawmakers with two plans.

The first was a way to balance the 2018 budget. The second, was a plan to raise more than $1 billion for road construction in the state through a road bond. Since, Justice has been traveling the state promoting that bond plan, but lawmakers have taken little action.

Secretary of the Department of Transportation Tom Smith discusses the proposal and whether Justice has given up on the push for new road funding.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Senators have approved a bill that “puts the final nail in the coffin” on Common Core in West Virginia, according to Senate Education Chair Kenny Mann.

The chamber voted 23-8 Saturday in favor of Senate Bill 524.

On The Legislature Today, Republican leaders this week released their 2018 budget framework and progressed a bill to reform the state's tax system, while Gov. Jim Justice made changes to his budget bill that he says will result in a $54 million surplus next year. 

Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy Executive Director Garrett Ballengee and Senior Policy Analyst for the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy Sean O'Leary discuss the plans.

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Gov. Jim Justice's Office has adjusted his 2018 budget proposal and, as a result, is asking lawmakers to change some appropriations in the plan, including reinstating some previously cut programs.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Sen. Joe Manchin attended a town hall in South Charleston Thursday night, taking questions from West Virginians about anything from environmental regulations to Pres. Donald Trump’s policies on immigration. 

More than 300 people attended the town hall at the Labelle Theater in South Charleston where Manchin took audience questions for an hour and a half.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members of the Senate were supposed to take up a bill Thursday to repeal the Common Core education standards and replace them with Math and English standards written some 20 years ago by California and Massachusetts.

The bill, however, was pushed back for the second day in a row, Thursday after the chamber’s Education chair spoke against it.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Senators also debated an election bill on the floor today, one that deals with how the governor is required to fill vacancies in elected offices. The bill is the result of a 2016 resignation in the Senate, one by a former member who changed party affiliation to give Republicans a majority in the chamber.

On The Legislature Today, education takes the spotlight in both the House and Senate as lawmakers debate bills making major changes in the state’s Pre-K through 12 system.

Senators are set to debate a Common Core repeal on the floor this week, which a Democratic member says is redundant and unnecessary. In the House, members focus on ways to give county school systems more flexibility in light of coming funding cuts.

On The Legislature Today, Republican Legislative leaders have expressed no intention to increase funding for the state's Public Employee's Health Insurance Agency, the healthcare coverage for government employees. That means potential increases in premiums and costs for those covered under the plan.

Dept. of Administration Sec. John Myers and PEIA Director Ted Cheatham discuss the funding for PEIA.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The Senate’s Transportation Committee has voted to advance a bill that would hike some taxes and fees to help increase funding for the state’s roadways. 

The bill was presented to lawmakers by Gov. Jim Justice, but is not part of his plan to generate more than $1 billion in revenues for a bond initiative. 

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

While Republican legislative leaders haven’t unveiled an actual bill, they have unveiled a more detailed plan for balancing the state’s budget. Senate President Mitch Carmichael and House Speaker Tim Armstead announced those plans during a press conference Monday

The plan is based on a premise Carmichael calls "novel" in state government: spending only the amount of money the state actually has. 

On The Legislature Today, days before Republican Legislative leaders previewed their plan to balance the 2018 budget, members of the House Liberty Caucus came up with a solution of their own.

Delegates Pat McGeehan and Michael Folk introduced their budget bill Thursday in the House of Delegates. It makes cuts to "government bureaucracy" in Charleston, smooths payments to the teacher's retirement system, and cuts Gov. Jim Justice's $105 million "SOS Fund" to not just find a balance, but include a 2 percent pay raise for teachers. 

The delegates discuss their plan and why it should be considered a "blueprint" for their fellow Republicans.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members of the Senate Select Committee on Tax Reform have approved their bill to restructure the state's tax code. 

The committee substitute for Senate Bill 335 was passed out of the committee Monday morning, the first step in its process to completion.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Editor's Note: This bill was revised by the Senate Select Committee on Tax Reform Monday, March 13. The revisions are explained in a new story on this website. 

Over the weekend, members of the Senate’s Select Committee on Tax Reform were presented with the latest version of a bill to overhaul West Virginia’s tax structure.

This is the third version of the legislation the 7 member committee has seen, but they’ve yet to take a vote on the measure. That vote, however, expected to come Monday.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In a memo signed by his deputy chief of staff, Gov. Jim Justice has placed a moratorium on state vehicle purchase, prohibiting them "indefinitely."

Any exceptions, according to the memo, "will only be granted in the most extraordinary circumstances" and must be approved by the Governor's Office.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Tensions were high Friday in the Senate as a motion to move a bill to the chamber’s Finance Committee turned into a debate over the procedures Senators with years of experience say are being ignored by some members of the majority party. 

On The Legislature Today, tensions were high in the Senate as a motion to move a bill to the chamber’s Finance Committee turned into a debate over the procedures Senators with years of experience say are being ignored by some members of the majority party.

Members of the House’s Judiciary Committee are considering a bill that its sponsors hope will curb West Virginia’s nursing shortage.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A bipartisan group of Senators voted to block a repeal of the state's requirement that all adults wear helmets while driving a motorcycle.

The repeal was amended into Senate Bill 173 during the committee process, a bill that would allow drivers to use autocycles, three-wheeled, fully enclosed vehicles, and would exempt drivers from having to obtain a motorcycle license. 

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