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

Gulf of Maine Deep Sea Coral Science Team

The fragile deep-sea corals that populate the canyon walls and basins in the Gulf of Maine provide habitat for many species of fish as well as baby lobster, crabs and squid. But the New England Fisheries Management Council has concluded that the northeast coral beds are threatened when they are disturbed by commercial fishing operations and is weighing new restrictions that could affect Maine.

Sweeping budget cuts proposed by President Trump would slash Environmental Protection Agency programs that reduce pollution in Maine, save lives and strengthen communities, according to the Natural Resources Council of Maine. 

Lisa Pohlmann, executive director of the group, told reporters at a Brewer press conference today that Maine's congressional delegation must defeat the proposed spending cuts.

Some new hope surfaced Wednesday for the embattled Downeast Correctional Facility. The Maine Senate voted 30-3 to preserve funding for the Bucks Harbor prison for the next two years. Union officials representing the guards at the facility say 55 layoff notices had been sent out by the governor, who wants to save about $5 million annually by closing the facility.

State prison officials are preparing to release an unspecified number of prisoners at several facilities in Maine after an announcement Tuesday by Gov. Paul LePage that he is commuting some sentences.

Without specifying a number, LePage says he will commute some sentences as part of an effort to “modernize” the state Corrections Department and promote fiscal responsibility. The action arrives just weeks before the governor’s closure of the Downeast Correctional Facility in Bucks Harbor.

FILE: Senate Armed Services Senate Committee member Sen. Angus King, I-Maine questions Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

Maine Independent Sen. Angus King said today that there is absolutely no doubt that the Russian government attempted to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told an AARP audience at the Bangor Public Library that Congress must take a bipartisan approach to determine what role — if any — the Trump campaign had in the Russian effort to influence the election’s outcome.

FILE: Sen. Angus King I-Maine, attends the christening ceremony for the USS Raphael Peralta, the 35th Arleigh Burke Class Missile Destroyer to be built by Bath Iron Works, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015, in Bath, Maine.
AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File

Bangor-area residents took their concerns over the impact of the Republican-led American Health Care Act directly to Independent Maine Sen. Angus King today during a listening session at the Bangor Public Library. The event was organized by the AARP, an advocacy group for 50-plus Americans, and King said that while the measure cleared the U.S. House earlier this month, how the bill will fare in the GOP-controlled Senate remains to be seen.

The LePage administration delivered layoff notices to all 46 employees at the Downeast Correctional Facility in Bucks Harbor on Friday as the governor moved ahead with plans to close the prison on June 10 and relocate its 100 prisoners to other facilities.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

The Trump administration has vowed to review some of the national monument designations carried out in the Obama years, which could include Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

One of Maine's major lobster fishermen's associations is waiting to see exactly how Canadian lobster processors will deal with Maine imports once a new trade deal between Canada and the 28-nation European Union is implemented.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the newly approved trade agreement between Canada and the EU eliminates tariffs on Canadian lobster exports to the EU, giving Canada a competitive edge over Maine lobster exports, which will still be subjected to a tariff.

A new development in what is expected to be a three-week-long trial involving a Somali couple charged with welfare fraud — a judge on Monday dismissed 14 of 15 counts against one of the defendants. The state’s case against Abdi Hassan that was supposed to begin Tuesday has now been postponed pending a further ruling from the court.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

Members of the Katahdin-area business community want Maine and the nation to know that support for the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is growing, even among those who initially opposed the 88,000-acre conveyance from Maine environmentalist Roxanne Quimby.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

More than 100 people gathered Wednesday outside the Bangor offices of Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin to warn him that his affirmative vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act could cost him his job.

The protest was called by the progressive Maine People’s Alliance and the crowd delivered 1,500 “pink slips” that the event organizers say were signed by voters in Maine’s 2nd District, which Poliquin represents.

Dr. Mark Lupinetti, an Orono cardiovascular surgeon, accused Poliquin of putting special interests above the voters.

Mal Leary / Maine Public

A state senator concerned with the dwindling number of applicants for thousands of current and future job vacancies in Maine says immigrants hold the key to replenishing the state’s aging workforce.

Republican state Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta says his bill would create the cabinet-level Office of New Mainers to attract more immigrants to Maine and provide those new residents with the training they need to succeed in the state’s labor force.

Mal Leary / Maine Public

Maine Democrats say the LePage administration must do more to reduce the numbers of children in severe poverty — and they’re proposing that the state access $150 million in available federal block grant funding to that end.

But Gov. Paul LePage and other Republicans say the Democrats’ plan to expand welfare would actually make many Mainers more dependent on state benefits.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

After a slow start, Maine fishermen are closing in on their annual harvest quota for baby glass eels more than a month before the season officially ends.

Jeff Nichols, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Marine Resources, said the eels — known as elvers — are currently fetching around $1,300 a pound from dealers, who can’t ship the catch to Asian markets fast enough.

“We’re probably at almost 80 percent of the total quota, harvesters have landed over 7,500 pounds of the 9,616 of the overall quota and that leaves a couple of thousand pounds left to harvest,” he said.