Just four years ago, Neil Riser captured one of the most sprawling districts in the Louisiana Senate.
Now he is returning without opposition even as his district faces major challenges.
Riser said economic problems, and especially the slowdown in offshore drilling, are causing havoc.
He said numerous constituents in Senate District 32 rely on offshore drilling and have been “dramatically affected” by the moratorium that followed the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion in April, 2010.
The lawmaker said that means fewer purchases of trucks, hunting equipment and the like as well as problems for the housing industry.
“The trickledown effect has been horrible on the economy,” Riser said.
“With drilling that would make a difference in the whole state,” he said.
The BP blast killed 11 workers and triggered a massive oil spill.
Moratorium backers said the action was aimed at making the industry safer.
Riser lives in Columbia, in Caldwell Parish, which has about 500 residents and is best known as the home base of former Gov. John McKeithen.
But his mostly rural district extends into the Baton Rouge suburbs of West Feliciana Parish as well as Avoyelles, Franklin, Ouachita, LaSalle, Catahoula and Concordia parishes.
One common problem, Riser said, is the movement of industries to heavily populated cities.
“Inside rural parishes, you don’t have a lot of economic development,” he said.
“I am looking on Main Street in Columbia,” Riser added. “There are not cars going by.”
“Over time we have seen everything gravitate out of the small towns,” he said. “That has hurt the tax base.”
Riser and other lawmakers have grappled with state budget problems in recent years, including a $1.6 billion shortfall earlier this year.
He said he opposes tax increases as a way to raise money.
Riser said he would have to examine proposed spending cuts individually before deciding whether to back them.
“We have made some dramatic cuts so far,” he said.
Riser said there is a distinction between tax and fee hikes. He said he opposes both.
Riser said he has worked to develop work force housing for the long-struggling Mississippi River Valley.
Earlier this year he also sponsored a bill that consolidates the state’s housing programs under a revamped Louisiana Housing Corporation.
The legislation was backed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, who said it would make housing operations more economical and efficient.
49, funeral home owner.
EDUCATION: B. A. degree, University of Louisiana at Monroe.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: State Senate, 2007-present.
WHERE TO VOTE
Ward/Precinct and location
1-1 Lafargue Elementary Gym
1-2 Lafargue Elementary Gym
2-2A Moncla Catholic Church Hall
2-3A St. Genevieve’s Community Center
6-2A Big Bend Post Office Museum
West Feliciana Parish
1-1A Parish Courthouse
1-1B Parish Courthouse
2-1A Elm Park Fire Station
2-1B Elm Park Fire Station
3-2 Weyanoke Fire Station
3-3A Solitude Fire Station
3-3B Solitude Fire Station
4-1 Tunica Fire Station
4-2 Spillman Fire Station
4-3 Rosemound Fire Station
5-1 Spillman Fire Station
5-2 Bains Elementary
5-3A Rosemound Fire Station
5-3B Rosemound Fire Station
6-1 St. Francisville Town Hall
6-2 Wakefield Fire Station
6-3A Rosemound Fire Station
6-3B Rosemound Fire Station
7-1A St. Francisville Town Hall
7-1B St. Francisville Town Hall
7-4 St. Francisville Town Hall