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Friday, August 17, 2018
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Panelist Bio


Sen. Neil Riser
R- Columbia, sponsor of SB303 gun rights bill which became the “Strict Scrutiny” state constitutional amendment

Neil Riser is the state Senator for District 32. District 32 encompasses all of Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, Franklin, LaSalle, and West Feliciana parishes and parts of Avoyelles, Ouachita, Rapides, and Richland parishes. Sen. Riser is Chairman of the Senate Revenue & Fiscal Affairs Committee and is a member of several committees including the Homeland Security Committee. Sen. Riser was the sponsor of SB303 to strengthen Louisiana gun rights through the “Strict Scrutiny” state constitutional amendment. Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action is quoted as saying “No other state has passed a right to keep and bear arms constitutional amendment as strong as Louisiana’s.”

Senator Riser is president and owner of the Riser Funeral Homes located in Caldwell and LaSalle parishes. He serves as a board member of the Caldwell Bank and Trust Company. He is also the past president of the Pelican State Life Insurance Company. Neil has a strong background in the timber industry and has worked in logging and timber since the age of 14

After graduating from Caldwell Parish High School in 1980, Neil obtained a B.A. in Business Management from Northeast Louisiana University in 1984.
Senator Riser is happily married to Vicki Smith Riser. Vicki, native of Franklin Parish and former teacher at River Oaks High School in Monroe, is currently managing Riser Funeral Home. Neil and Vicki are the proud parents of two daughters, Emilie and Allison Riser.

Current Topic


     08/18 - The Power of Reading

How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?
The ability to read sets the foundation of who we are and what we can be. Through reading we expand our world, learn new things and increase our base of knowledge. In fact, a parent’s reading level is the greatest factor in a child’s academic success. Children who can’t read proficiently by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

In Louisiana, 20 percent of adults are illiterate – five points higher than the national rate. How is Louisiana combatting its illiteracy problem across generational lines? How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?

Louisiana Public Square: The Power of Reading looks for answers and explores the value of lifelong reading through the lens of the PBS series The Great American Read Wednesday, August 22 at 7pm on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE. (Recorded Tuesday, August 14 in the Magnolia Performing Arts Pavilion at Baton Rouge Community College.)

Our panelists are:
- Linda-Marie Barrett, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA)
- Rebecca Hamilton, MLIS; Louisiana State Librarian
- Danny Heitman; Journalist and Louisiana author
- Miranda Restovic, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH).
- Gary Robertson; Adult Literacy Advocates

The program features interviews with John Cavalier, owner of Cavalier House Books; Gary Robertson, Executive Director of Adult Literacy Advocates; representatives from the LEH PRIME TIME intergenerational reading program, and Superintendent John White with the Louisiana Department of Education.

LPB CEO Beth Courtney and Robyn Merrick, Southern University VP of External Affairs, host the show.

Louisiana Public Square can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.

This episode of Louisiana Public Square is underwritten by Community Coffee’s Cash for Schools Program, the Louisiana Forestry Association, LSU Press and the Southern Independent Booksellers’ Authors Round the South.

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Special Presentation


     05/16 - Louisiana Veterans Coming Home

What challenges do our returning veterans face?

Coming Soon!


     09/18 - Revisiting Reform

Are the criminal justice reforms working as intended?

Recent Topics


     07/18 - Preventing Suicide

How is Louisiana addressing its suicide problem?

     06/18 - Louisiana: Sportsman’s Paradise or Problem?  (ENCORE)

Is Louisiana a Sportsman’s Paradise or Problem?

     05/18 - News About the News

How can viewers distinguish between fact and fake news and is social media blurring the difference?

     04/18 - Balancing Eldercare

How much does Louisiana spend on nursing homes versus home and community-based care?
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