|Louisiana State Senator from District 32 (Avoyelles, Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, Franklin, La Salle, Ouachita, Rapides, Richland, and West Feliciana parishes)|
January 14, 2008
|Preceded by||Noble Ellington|
|Born||Hartwell Neil Riser, Jr.
April 25, 1962
Columbia, Louisiana, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Vicki Smith Riser|
|Children||Emilie and Allison Riser|
|Alma mater||Caldwell Parish High School
University of Louisiana at Monroe
|Occupation||Funeral home owner|
Hartwell Neil Riser, Jr., known as Neil Riser (born April 25, 1962), is a funeral home owner in Columbia in Caldwell Parish in northeastern Louisiana, who is a Republican member of the Louisiana State Senate. He was a candidate for Louisiana's 5th congressional district in the special runoff election held on November 16, 2013, having been defeated by fellow Republican Vance McAllister, a political newcomer from Swartz.
Early life, education, and business career
Riser's grandfather, A. Hartwell Riser, was a city alderman from 1942 to 1950 in Ruston in Lincoln Parish. Riser was born in Columbia to Hartwell Neil Riser, Sr. (1934–1985), and the former Lillian Marie Gore (born 1937), who married in Caldwell Parish in 1956. After her husband's death, Lillian Riser married Herschel Gentry, Jr., of Monroe. Neil Riser graduated in 1980 from Caldwell Parish High School in Columbia.
Located south of Monroe in northeastern Louisiana, Columbia was also the home of Governor John McKeithen and McKeithen's son, Louisiana Secretary of State W. Fox McKeithen. In 1984, Riser earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business management from the University of Louisiana at Monroe (then Northeast Louisiana University).
He is president and owner of Riser Funeral Homes in Caldwell and La Salle parishes. Since 1934, the Riser family has operated the funeral home, which was begun by Riser's grandfather. Riser also serves as a board member of Caldwell Bank and Trust in Columbia. He is a past president of Pelican State Life Insurance Company. He was previously in the timber business, having worked in logging at the age of fourteen.
In 2007, State Senator Noble Ellington, a Democrat, did not seek reelection. Riser hence ran for the Louisiana Senate's 32nd district, based in the northeast portion of the state. In the open nonpartisan blanket primary, Riser ranked first with 49 percent of the vote and fell just short of an outright victory. Riser attributed his success to "a good grassroots system that helped us. We did it one vote at a time...We truly were able to win against an embedded political system." In the November general election, Riser defeated former State Representative Bryant Hammett, a Democrat from Concordia Parish. Hammett, a former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, was the outgoing secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries under Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco. Riser defeated Hammett 55-45 percent.
Riser is the first Republican since Reconstruction to have won this Senate seat. John Henry Baker of Delhi was the first Republican to have sought the seat, but in the general election held on February 1, 1972, Baker fell well short of victory.
In 2011, Riser won re-election to a second term unopposed.
Riser promised to file legislation to roll back the state income tax hike that became law when voters approved the Stelly Plan, named for former Republican State Representative Vic Stelly of Lake Charles. The rollback took effect early in 2009. Riser maintains that voters were misled when they ratified the Stelly Plan, which cut certain taxes and raised others.
Riser vowed from the onset to work with Governor Jindal "to move our state and our region forward." He indicated that he would work to reduce the tax burden on businesses and families. His website stresses education, health-care reform, highway expansion, traditional values, and Second Amendment rights. He advertised widely on the radio program of conservative talk show host Moon Griffon of Monroe, who urged listeners to support Riser. Riser also obtained the support of the late congressional candidate Lee Fletcher of Monroe, who declared him "solid as a rock and has the best background to represent real change" in Baton Rouge.
From 1996 to 2000, Riser was a member of the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee.
- Standing Committees
- Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture, and Rural Development
- Labor & Industrial Relations
- Revenue & Fiscal Affairs (Chairman)
- Senate & Governmental Affairs
- Select Committees
- Homeland Security
- Veterans Affairs
2013 congressional election
Riser was a major candidate for the U.S. House seat vacated in September 2013 by Republican Rodney Alexander. Alexander announced on August 6, that he would not seek a seventh term in the office that he had held since 2003 and then a day later confirmed that he would resign the House seat effective September 27 to join the administration of Governor Bobby Jindal. Riser declared himself "100 percent in the race. It's a decision I'd already made. I already represent ten of the twenty-four parishes in the district; so I’m confident I have a connection with the people in it and with their conservative priorities. Riser was endorsed by U.S. Representatives John C. Fleming of Louisiana's 4th congressional district, Charles Boustany of Louisiana's 3rd congressional district and Steve Scalise of Louisiana's 1st congressional district.
Riser's congressional campaign was managed by Timmy Teepell of OnMessage, Inc., of Alexandria, Virginia. Teepell was chief of staff to Governor Jindal during much of Jindal's first term and remains a close advisor to the governor.
Riser ranked first in a field of fourteen candidates from all parties in the special election held on October 19. He led in fourteen of the twenty-four parishes in the district, mostly by plurality. He received just under 32 percent of the vote. Vance McAllister ranked second with 18 percent. The two then met in the runoff election held on November 16. In the first round of balloting, McAllister led only in his native West Carroll Parish and Richland Parish and finished a strong second in Ouachita Parish, where he operates a pipeline construction company, runs multiple Subway franchises, and promotes wrestling events. He was endorsed by native celebrity Phil Robertson of the A&E Network's Duck Dynasty television series, filmed in West Monroe. Robertson said the fact that McAllister has the least political experience is a factor in his favor. McAllister narrowly defeated Jamie Mayo, who received 15 percent of the vote, for the second runoff berth. Mayo is the mayor of Monroe and an African-American Democrat.For the runoff contest, Mayo endorsed McAllister as "more approachable" than Riser. McAllister also had the support of Republican Clyde Holloway, who ran fourth in the primary election.
Though the district reaches south into the Florida Parishes, the top two candidates to succeed Alexander came from adjoining Caldwell and Ouachita parishes in north Louisiana, not that far from Alexander's Jackson Parish, which supported McAllister, instead of Alexander's preferred Riser.
In the runoff, Riser carried ten of the twenty-four parishes, four fewer than he had in the first round of balloting. McAllister led Riser, 54,449 (59.7) to 36,837 (40.3 percent), with all 981 precincts reporting.
Even after McAllister announced in April 2014, that he would not seek a full House term in the primary scheduled for November 4 and then seemed to hesitate about the decision, Riser confirmed that he would not run again for the congressional seat. Those in the race for the full term include Monroe Mayor Mayo once again, former Grant Parish District Attorney Ed Tarpley, and Monroe attorney Harris Brown.
State police retirement controversy
In July 2014, Riser pushed through an amendment on the last day of the legislative session which could increase by $55,000 annually the retirement pay of Colonel Michael David "Mike" Edmonson (born September 1958), the superintendent of the Louisiana State Police and a Republican appointee of Governor Jindal. Another unnamed state trooper could also be similarly affected. Legislative rules prohibit a conference committee report from being considered on the last day of a session. However, both chambers voted by the two-thirds majority to suspend the rules and pass Riser's amendment. Louisiana State Treasurer John Neely Kennedy has urged the state police retirement board, of which he is an ex officio member, to litigate the constitutionality of Senate Bill 294, which was promptly signed into law by Jindal.
Though he had first denied authorship of the amendment, Riser said that he was asked to submit the measure to the full legislature by Charlie Dupuy, the deputy police superintendent. Riser said it was his understanding that the bill in question addresses the rights of law enforcement officers and "broad retirement issues", not specific individuals who could benefit from its provisions.
Meanwhile, government watchdog and Hammond attorney C. B. Forgotston claims that Riser's amendment will apply to "hundreds of thousands" of current and future retirees in all departments of state government and could increase taxpayer liability by millions of dollars in additional accrued expenses. Forgotston said that Riser flatly lied to him in first denying the authorship of the amendment. "Riser has now said, ‘Yeah, it was me ...' He should have apologized to the public. He should have apologized to the other five members of the conference committee. He threw them under the bus. He definitely owes an apology to his staff member - he threw her under the bus."
Riser is married to the former Vicki Smith, the daughter of Glen and Carolyn Smith of the Fort Necessity community in Franklin Parish. She taught at River Oaks High School in Monroe. The couple has two daughters, Emilie (born 1988) and Allison (born 1992).
- Net Detective :: Login :: Get the scoop on anyone!
- "City of Ruston: Previous Public Officials". ruston.org. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
- Neil Riser for State Senate
- http://www.neilriser.com/; http://www.ouachitacitizen.com/news.php?id=815
- "Louisiana primary election returns, October 20, 2007". sos.louisiana.gov. Retrieved November 25, 2009.
- The News Star - www.thenewsstar.com - Monroe, LA
- "Louisiana general election returns, November 17, 2007". sos.louisiana.gov. Retrieved November 25, 2009.
- The Ouachita Citizen: News: Riser announces candidacy for Senate District 32
- The Moon Griffon Show
- Louisiana News Link: Endorsement: Neil Riser Is Heads And Shoulders Better Than Bryant Hammett
- "Greg Hilburn, "Potential candidates begin positioning," August 6, 2013". Monroe News-Star. Retrieved August 7, 2013.
- "Jordan Blum, Veterans job speeds D.C. exit". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, August 7, 2013. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
- "http://theadvocate.com/home/6863564-125/riser-claims-fec-mistaken". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, October 14, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
- "Scott Kaufman, Duck Dynasty’ patron Phil Robertson endorses Vance McAllister because he 'has the least experience', October 20, 2013". rawstory.com. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
- "U. S. Representative -- 5th Congressional District". lasos.blob.core.windows.net. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
- "5th congressional district special election returns, November 16, 2013". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved November 16, 2013.
- "Click Michael Edmonson, September 1958". voterportal.sos.la.gov. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
- Barbara Leader (July 30, 2014). "John Kennedy, board to discuss retirement benefits law". Retrieved August 1, 2014.
- Lee Zurik (July 28, 2014). "Lee Zurik Investigation: Riser's amendment could cost state millions". Fox 8 Live. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
- Neil Riser for Congress
- State Senator Neil Riser at the Louisiana State Senate
- Profile at Project Vote Smart
- Profile at OpenStates
- Profile at OurCampaigns.com
- Owner profile at Riser Funeral Homes
|Louisiana State Senator from District 32 (Avoyelles, Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, Franklin, La Salle, Ouachita, Richland, Rapides, and West Feliciana parishes)
Hartwood Neil Riser, Jr.