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Tuesday, November 13, 2018
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Panelist Bio


Sen. Neil Riser
R-Columbia

In 2005, Neil Riser decided to become a citizen candidate for Louisiana Senate in what many considered a “long-shot” bid. He worked hard for 25 months and ultimately won the 2007 election.

He has since worked closely with constituents of all political parties to fairly represent everyone in District 32. He has an open door policy and fights to protect children and the poor and elderly–those who may have a difficult time protecting themselves. He has fought hard to keep taxes low and to reform and improve education, key promises he made in his first election.

Senator Riser represents the people of District 32 as a member of the Louisiana Senate. The district stretches from Monroe to Alexandria to the Greater Baton Rouge area, encompassing much of central and northeastern Louisiana and a small part of the Florida parishes.

Senator Riser is an independent voice and has been unafraid to challenge the status quo and stand up to the political establishment. He has stood firm for his principles while reaching across the aisle to work with people from both major parties.

Senator Riser has served on the State Bond Commission and served four years as chairman of the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee. He is currently the chairman of the Senate Labor & Industrial Relations Committee.

This session, he is the sponsor of SB406 which would allow certain teachers and parents who are active duty or retired police officers, veterans, active duty military personnel, or reservists who are concealed weapons permitees to enter into agreements with principals to secure their schools.

In 2012, 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.”

Hartwell Neil Riser, Jr. was born in 1962 in Columbia, Louisiana to Hartwell Riser, Sr. (1934–1985), and the former Lillian Gore, now Mrs. Lillian R. Gentry of Monroe, wife of Herschel Gentry, Jr.

Neil began logging at age 14 and worked in the timber industry until age 23, taking breaks to attend school. He graduated from Caldwell High School in 1980. Louisiana’s former Governor, John McKeithen, and former Secretary of State, Fox McKeithen, were also from Columbia and
were family friends.

Neil earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management in 1984 from Northeast Louisiana University (now the University of Louisiana at Monroe).

He is president and owner of Riser Funeral Home. The Riser family has operated the business since 1934. He also serves as a board member of Caldwell Bank and Trust. He is a past president of Pelican State Life Insurance Company.

Neil is married to the former Vicki Smith, the daughter of Glenn and Carolyn Smith of the Fort Necessity community in Franklin Parish. She taught at River Oaks School in Monroe. Neil and Vicki have two daughters, Emilie and Allison.


Current Topic


     10/18 - Louisiana Veterans Back Home

What are the programs and initiatives helping our veterans successfully transition to civilian life?
Since 2001, 2.6 million service men and women have been deployed to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Twenty-six percent of Louisiana’s veterans fought in these conflicts. The needs for these veterans are plentiful including securing employment and housing, and dealing with the mental rigors of transitioning from military back to civilian life.

Louisiana Public Square explores the unique programs and initiatives that are helping our state’s younger veterans successfully overcome these challenges on “Louisiana Veterans Back Home” Wednesday, October 24 at 7 p.m. on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE. (Recording Thursday, October 18.)

Veterans Coming Home is a collaborative, multi-platform public media project between Wisconsin Public Television and Kindling Group in partnership with local stations and other national organizations. Veterans Coming Home is made possible with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Logos of funding providers for Veterans Coming Home


2016 “Louisiana Veterans Coming Home” program. | View Online.


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Special Presentation


     05/16 - Louisiana Veterans Coming Home

What challenges do our returning veterans face?

Coming Soon!


     11/18 - An Eye on Admissions

What standards should be used for college admissions?

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