A.J. Higgins

State House Bureau Chief

A.J. came to MPBN in August 2007 after a recent stint as a staff writer for Blethen Maine Newspapers, where his work 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, Higgins 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, Higgins 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.

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

Ways to Connect

A.J. Higgins / MPBN

Donald Trump roared into Bangor Wednesday afternoon into the collective embrace of about 5,000 loyal supporters at the Cross Center. The audience applauded the presumptive Republican nominee’s promises of great trade deals, expanded job opportunities and a no-exceptions immigration policy that he says will make America safe.

All of the campaign hoopla played well in the heart of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, where large numbers of conservative voters could hand Trump one Electoral College vote if he carries the region in November.

A.J. Higgins / MPBN

Millions of Americans visit Maine’s Acadia National Park each year expecting a quality outdoor experience featuring some of the state’s most iconic landscapes. But unhealthy air quality in the region is forcing some hikers to change their plans.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday against two Maine men who were caught with guns in violation of a federal statute.

Both Stephen Voisine of Wytopitlock and William Armstrong III of New Vineyard had misdemeanor domestic assault convictions.

AUGUSTA, Maine - In the wake of the recent Orlando shootings, gun legislation continues to dominate the headlines in Washington D.C., and in Maine, where Gov. Paul LePage is campaigning hard to defeat a fall ballot question that would require criminal background checks for anyone purchasing a firearm through a private sale.

During a well-attended and supportive town meeting event in Richmond Wednesday evening, LePage said the focus of the gun debate is misdirected. But the governor's critics say he has waffled on gun control and needs to check his facts.

RICHMOND, Maine - For Gov. Paul LePage, a federal policy that permits food stamp benefits to be used to purchase sugary drinks, candy and junk food is just another example of what's wrong in Washington these days.

Gov. Paul LePage continued his assault on one of Maine’s premier conservation agencies Wedensday night by blaming the Natural Resources Council of Maine for keeping the state’s property tax rates among some of the highest in New England. During one of his regular town meetings in Richmond, LePage said the state’s property tax woes could be summed up in four letters.

Democratic leaders in the Maine Legislature say lawmakers have done their work in passing four bills that Gov. Paul LePage has raised concerns about – and that now it’s up to the administration to implement them. LePage failed to persuade Democrats to return to Augusta for a special session during a half-hour meeting Wednesday that was also attended by Republicans. The governor told a gathering in Richmond Wednesday evening that lawmakers simply refuse to work with him.

A federal judge has thrown out a $14 million defamation suit involving a Maine activist who publicized sex abuse allegations against a former catholic brother who ran an orphanage in Haiti. The judge ruled that the plaintiff in the case was not living in the United States when the claim was filed, and so the suit should never have been heard in a US court.

Kirk Francis, Penobscot Nation Chief
United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc.

A year ago, the Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribe pulled their tribal representatives from the Maine Legislature in protest of being marginalized by state government for decades.

A.J. Higgins / MPBN

The polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, but the question of who will represent Republicans this fall against incumbent U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree remains open.

Mark Holbrook is currently the unofficial winner of the GOP 1st District primary, with a 55-vote edge over Ande Allen Smith. But at a State House press conference Friday, Smith told reporters that he has asked the Maine secretary of state for a recount. A final determination in the race could be weeks away.

Mark Holbrook, a conservative professional counselor from Brunswick, has emerged as the apparent winner in Maine’s 1st District Republican primary, securing his party’s nomination by a mere 55 votes.

Holbrook says he was notified of his unofficial victory Thursday evening by Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.

“They called at ten minutes of five and explained that all of the results were in and that they had certified them and the official number was that I had won by 55 votes,” he says.

Holbrook credited his staff with propelling him across the finish line.

PERC / percwte.com

There’s some “trash talk” going on in Penobscot County, centering around a proposed biogas plant in Hampden that plans to convert thousands of tons of municipal waste into a marketable fuel.

Rebecca Conley / MPBN

The dust still hasn’t settled in the GOP primary race for Maine’s 1st Congressional District.

Unofficial results show Mark Holbrook leading Ande Allen Smith by about 60 votes. The close contest may be one for the record books, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Meanwhile, Gov. Paul LePage’s efforts to influence the outcome of a couple of GOP state Senate primaries appears to have produced mixed results.

A.J. Higgins / MPBN

It took 16 years and more than $60 million, but the Penobscot River Restoration Project is now complete, and one of the state’s mightiest rivers has been reconnected to the sea.

A.J. Higgins / MPBN

The state of Maine is expected to review the way that solar energy system owners are credited for the electricity that they add to the grid, a process known as “net metering.” Solar advocates worry that the the state’s Public Utilities Commission could make changes that would effectively pull the plug on the state’s solar market.