A.J. Higgins

Statewide News Reporter

A.J. came to Maine Public Radio in August 2007 after a stint as a staff writer for Blethen Maine Newspapers. His news coverage for the Kennebec Journal in Augusta also appeared in the Waterville Morning Sentinel, the Portland Press Herald and the Maine Sunday Telegram. Prior to joining the Kennebec Journal, A.J. served for 13 years as political editor and State House bureau chief for the Bangor Daily News.

He began working for the BDN in 1972 while still a senior at Bangor High School, when his first job was casting the lead plates for the printing presses in the paper’s stereotype department. In the ensuing 34 years, A.J. moved up to the editorial department, where he quickly immersed himself in nearly every facet of news reporting, editing and photography.

In addition to his extensive coverage in the greater Bangor area, he also worked in the paper’s Presque Isle bureau and was named bureau chief of the paper’s Hancock County operations in Ellsworth in 1988. He was assigned to the State House in 1993.

While A.J.’s reporting on Maine Public Radio has largely centered around coverage of events in Augusta, he has turned his reporting chops to issues and topics taking place across the entire state.

A.J. resides in Manchester with his wife, Diane.

Ways to Connect

Voters in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District are likely feeling a sense of deja vu this election season. In a redux of the same race two years ago, former Democratic state lawmaker Emily Cain is challenging former state treasurer Bruce Poliquin, who beat her in 2014 after winning 45 percent of the vote in a three-way race.

Campaign ads for both candidates seem to be trying to convince voters that neither is who they appear to be.

Mal Leary / Maine Public

Gov. Paul LePage Monday released the contents of a three-ring binder that he has said backs his claims that most drug traffickers in Maine are black or Hispanic. But the information inside, which was issued in response to Freedom of Access Act requests, doesn’t seem to support those claims.

The binder, or scrapbook, that LePage has been compiling first came to light at one of his town hall meetings in North Berwick last month, as he was talking about Maine’s heroin problem.

The cremated remains of Pvt. Jewett Williams will be interred Saturday at the Hodgdon Cemetery, 151 years after he mustered out of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment and 94 years after his death.

It has been a long journey for the Civil War veteran, but his descendants in Aroostook County say they are glad to finally welcome him home.

BANGOR, Maine - The city of Bangor has rejected claims lodged by the operators of a methadone clinic who say drug-dependent Mainers were deprived of their rights when the City Council denied the agency's expansion request.

The Penobscot County Metro Treatment Center claims the City Council vote ignored the rights of drug addicts who are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The agency also charges that the council's denial in August of a request to expand from 300 to 500 patients treated the methadone clinic differently from other health care facilities.

BANGOR, Maine -  The University of Maine System's Board of Trustees plans to ask lawmakers for a 12 percent increase in state funding over the current budget cycle.  

Dan Demeritt, communications director for the UMaine System, said the trustees decided to seek the increase over a three-year period, during their board meeting Monday in Fort Kent, to address a variety of funding needs.

In planning a framework to allow recreational marijuana sales in Maine, the authors of Question 1 looked to Colorado for inspiration. That state's law is now two years old, and there's a baseline of information that can be gleaned from the experiment. Some of it has been copied into Maine's proposed initiative, but there are also some key differences.

As we continue our weeklong series "High Stakes: How Legalizing Pot Could Affect Maine," A.J. Higgins takes a closer look at what those differences are.

A.J. Higgins / MPBN

Dozens of Mainers rallied Monday at the Bangor office of 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin to voice support for his efforts to repeal two provisions of the Social Security formula.

Poliquin and others say both are preventing retired public servants — such as firefighters, teachers and police officers — from receiving their full Social Security benefits.

A.J. Higgins / MPBN

It was just over three weeks ago that President Barack Obama designated 87,000 acres of remote Maine forestland as a national monument. But there are lots of details to work out: Recreational access, potential fees and timber harvesting were among the top concerns expressed by a crowd of more than 150 people who met Thursday evening in Stacyville to discuss the future of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

A.J. Higgins / MPBN

BANGOR, Maine - A former banker from Bangor says he will launch a write-in campaign as an independent candidate for Maine's 2nd Congressional District in an effort to defeat Republican incumbent Rep. Bruce Poliquin.

Jay Dresser, 61, says that as a former member of both the Republican and Democratic parties, he is convinced that neither offers candidates who can effectively represent the district's voters.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage speaks during a conference on August 26, 2016.
File/MPBN

Gov. Paul LePage gave up on finding common ground with Democrats a long time ago, but he’s always been able to rely on the support of most Republicans in the Maine House. Now, as some Senate Republicans are eying a censure penalty, LePage will need the support of house Republicans to achieve any of his policy goals in the next legislative session. Some House Republicans say they need to need to hear more from LePage.

Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine’s 2nd District is calling on Maine television stations to take down an ad paid for by End Citizens United that he says makes several inaccurate claims about his voting record.

Poliquin says the ad erroneously accuses him of, among other things, being a former Wall Street banker, voting to support a Medicare voucher program and boosting profits for insurance companies. The congressman says all of those charges are untrue and the attack on his record is part of a larger coordinated effort.

While the monument designation has prompted a mixed reaction from Democratic lawmakers, Republicans in the Maine Legislature remain largely opposed to the plan that they say will actually turn out to be a job killer in the Baxter State Park region.

Several Maine Democrats gathered outside the Bangor offices of GOP 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin Monday to highlight the congressman’s questionable use of state tree growth tax exemption laws and a lengthy record of late payments on his property taxes.

Democrats say Poliquin continues to maintain a cavalier attitude about his tax payments, but Republicans are dismissing the event as a meaningless political stunt.

A summerlong public relations battle between two competing trash-to-energy companies is heading to court.

Maryland-based Fiberight and its Ellsworth partner, the Municipal Review Committee, or MRC, want to build a biogas, organic trash disposal facility in Hampden. But on Friday, the Penobscot Energy Recovery Company, or PERC, filed an appeal in Kennebec County Superior Court, challenging the validity of the state permits issued for the project by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

A.J. Higgins / MPBN

Republican 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin lashed out at his Democratic opponent today during a tour of the General Electric Turbine plant in Bangor.

In a speech in which he promoted his job creation strategies and support of small businesses, Poliquin accused former state lawmaker Emily Cain of favoring big government and voting against Maine businesses. Cain says Poliquin needs to check his facts.

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