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|Riser stresses cooperation|
State Sen. Neil Riser (R-Columbia) told members of the Winnsboro-Franklin Chamber of Commerce Thursday that cooperation between legislators, local governments and entities is pivotal to working with Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration.
Acknowledging State Rep. Noble Ellington, who was at the meeting, Riser said, "It's a priority we are all on the same page" to get funding for local projects.
"If me and Noble know what the priorities are, we are working concurrently."
Riser said input from the city, police jury and chamber of commerce all considered when decisions are made regarding dispensing state money.
"It's important that you contact us," Riser said, regarding issues of local interests.
He said the way a bill is presented doesn't always reflect the end product that changes in wording and meaning are made along the way.
"The bills change through the whole process. It can come out a different animal than when it came in," he said.
Commenting on the special budget surplus session, Riser said some $14 billion of the $30 billion surplus was designated infrastructure – namely roads.
"We have a lot of roads that need help," he said.
Riser touched on two topics he believes will impact the state and northeast Louisiana in the future, workforce development and solar power.
Riser, who serves on the Senate Labor Committee, said the vocational education, the technical college system, has to teach skilled trades to bring the state's labor force to meet the demands of industry.
"We need auto mechanics, electricians and welders," he said.
"Right now it seems like we are so far behind the curve" in producing a skilled labor force, "I don't think it's the vo-techs, it's the administration," he said.
Riser also presented the unique concept of creating "electricity farming" with solar power. He said farmers are being paid not to plant and that acreage could be used to produce solar power.
"We are working on getting the legislation through where you an actually farm electricity," Riser said.
Other nations, particularly Germany, have looked at Louisiana as possible solar farm and solar-equipment manufacturing plant.