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.

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Great Northern bankruptcy
5:01 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Cutler Lambastes LePage Administration Over GNP Tax Deal

The Great Northern Paper mill in East Millinocket.
Credit File photo

PORTLAND, Maine - Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler lashed out today at the LePage administration for encouraging a tax credit scheme two years ago for the Great Northern Paper Company. With the company's recent bankruptcy filing, Cutler says Maine taxpayers are now on the hook for $16 million, and have no jobs in Millinocket to show for it.

 

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LePage nominations
4:50 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

Group Fails to Derail LePage Nominee for Efficiency Maine Trust Board

Don Lewis, whose nomination to the Efficiency Maine Trust board was approved by a legislative panel.
Credit A.J. Higgins / MPBN

An eleventh-hour effort by an environmental group to derail the governor's nominee to the board of trustees for the Efficiency Maine Trust failed today, after members of a legislative panel concluded there was no reason to oppose the nomination. The Natural Resources Council of Maine claimed that Brewer engineer and businessman Don Lewis should not serve on the board because of a conflict of interest.

 

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Energy costs
4:19 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

Maine Governor Seeks Federal Intervention in Pipeline Dispute

AUGUSTA, Maine - Electric bills are rising as New England prepares for the winter heating season, and Gov. Paul R. LePage is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission - or FERC - to address skyrocketing energy prices in the region.

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Your Vote 2014
5:16 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

Maine GOP Seeks Apology for Mailer Attacking State Senate Candidate

Republican Sen. Brian Langely, of Ellsworth.
Credit Mal Leary / MPBN

Maine Senate Republican leaders are calling on the state Democratic party to apologize for a recent mailer against GOP Sen. Brian Langley, of Ellsworth. Langley is targeted for his vote to sustain the governor's veto of a bill that would have expanded the public's right to know regarding the number of products sold in Maine containing the potentially hazardous chemical BPA.  

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Your Vote 2014
5:19 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Bellows and Collins Spar Over Collins' Voting Record

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows speaks to reporters at the State House.
Credit A.J. Higgins / MPBN

AUGUSTA, Maine - The political newcomer challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Susan Collins went on the offensive today, challenging Collins' voting record on a number of issues. Democrat Shenna Bellows says Collins' votes - including her rejection of a minimum wage increase - are not in the best interests of working Mainers.

 

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Psychiatric hospital issues
1:45 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Maine Democrats: Gov Not Doing Enough to Fix Riverview

State Rep. Richard Farnsworth, a Portland Democrat, says Gov. Paul LePage must act now to to confront problems at Riverview Psychiatric Center, as Maine Democratic Party Chair Ben Grant looks on.
Credit A.J. Higgins / MPBN

Maine Democratic leaders are lashing out at Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who they said should be making ongoing issues at the Riverview Psychiatric Center a top priority.

The Democrat's State House press conference followed a recent report by the Maine Sunday Telegram on the dangerous conditions and dysfunction at the hospital, and a decision by a legislative government watchdog group to investigate the facility.

Maine Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson said the governor was ducking the Riverview issue.

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Your Vote 2014
1:40 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Bellows Criticizes Collins' Votes on Pay Issues

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows speaks to reporters at the State House.
Credit A.J. Higgins / MPBN

AUGUSTA, Maine - Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows called a State House press conference today to highlight votes cast by her Republican opponent, Republican Sen. Susan Collins, on issues she says will hurt working Mainers.

Specifically, Bellows pointed to Collins' opposition to a $10.10 minimum wage and also the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation that would provide that women receive equal pay for equal work. The Democratic candidate also took issue with Collins' vote on a bill that would ease the financial burden for veterans seeking additional education.

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Riverview Psychiatric Center
4:58 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Maine Lawmakers Seek More Scrutiny of State Psychiatric Hospital

The Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta.
Credit Mal Leary / MPBN

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine's embattled Riverview Psychiatric Center is about to be scrutinized once again, this time by the Legislature's non-partisan Office of Program Evaluation and Governmental Accountability. The latest review follows the hospital's loss of some $20 million in federal Medicaid funding because of safety and compliance violations. Now, in addition to an audit to ensure that the facility is in compliance with a state-approved consent decree, lawmakers on the Legislature's Government Oversight Committee are launching their own limited investigation.

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Riverview Psychiatric Center
12:56 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Maine Committee Orders Riverview Investigation

The Riverview Psychiatric Center, which the LePage administration renamed the Riverview Psychiatric Recovery Center earlier this year.
Credit Mal Leary / MPBN

AUGUSTA, Maine - Persistent problems at the Riverview Psychiatric Center have prompted a legislative government watchdog panel to direct staff to investigate the facility.

State Sen. Roger Katz, an Augusta Republican, says he did not learn about a serious incident that took place at the facility last December until last week. It involved a corrections officer assigned to provide security at the center who sprayed a naked patient with pepper spray and then held her in restraints for hours.

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Your Vote 2014
5:42 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Maine Gov. LePage Does an About-Face on Debates

Mike Michaud discusses the debate situation at a press conference Tuesday in Portland.
Credit Susan Sharon / MPBN

AUGUSTA, Maine - After doubling down on a threat to avoid all gubernatorial debates, Republican Gov. Paul LePage abruptly did an about-face and confirmed that he would be attending such a function next month. The debate saga was thrust into the limelight again Tuesday when LePage confirmed that he would not debate his Democratic opponent, Mike Michaud, unless Michaud denounced a third-party's TV ad. But a few hours later, LePage's position had evolved.

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