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Thursday's Afternoon Update

TS Andrea blankets Florida, causing tornadoes, flight delays

While heavy rain from Tropical Storm Andrea soaked Florida, the storm was also causing sporadic flight delays, tornadoes, water spouts and flooding. Tornadoes were reported in Manatee, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Palm Beach and Broward counties, according to Bryan Koon, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Gov. Rick Scott hoped the impact would be minimal, while at the same time he worried about the effects of sequestration on National Guard response. Landfall is projected to be near Cedar Key, Fla. late in the day Thursday. Then Andrea will race up the U.S. east coast, where new Tropical Storm warnings have been issued. [Sources: The Weather Channel, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Miami Herald]
For more, see: » State weather radar » Storm path map

Business Profile
Employment Technologies

Joe Sefcik Jr.
Joe Sefcik Jr.
When Joe Sefcik Jr. founded Employment Technologies in 1995, many companies were still using paper, pencil and telephones to test job candidates or conduct employee evaluations. Since then, the Winter Park-based company has helped revolutionize the hiring and worker-assessment process.

Breaking News

Florida's economy last year grew at fastest pace in six years

Florida's gross domestic product (GDP) grew at 2.4 percent in 2012, just under the national average of 2.5 percent, according to Labor Department statistics released Thursday. That's a marked improvement from both 2010 and 2011 when Florida's economic output rose less than one percent each year. "It's indicative of a national recovery in general… but we're looking for a better rebound in Florida because it fell so far in the downturn," said Scott Brown, chief economist for Raymond James Financial. He predicts the 2013 figures will be much stronger after the state's impressive job creation so far this year. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

The biggest budget cutter in Congress is a Floridian

No one in Congress tried to save taxpayers more money over the last two years than U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, according to calculations made by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, a non-profit group based in Washington. Each year the NTUF ranks all members of Congress. If every bill he sponsored or co-sponsored was passed, the NTUF said Ross would have saved taxpayers over $608 billion. The second biggest saver in Florida: U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Charlotte, at $344 billion. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]

Florida credit unions grow deposits more than banks

The pace of deposit growth at Florida credit unions is faster than at the state’s banks. The National Credit Union Administration reported that Florida-based credit unions grew their deposits 4.1 percent in the 12 months ended March 31. Florida-based banks increased their deposits only 2.4 percent over the same period. Yet, credit unions were not getting many new customers. Florida credit unions saw a 0.6 percent decline in members year-over-year. [Source: South Florida Business Journal]

Florida grad rate for Hispanic students tops in the nation

Florida has made strong gains in high school graduation rates in the last decade and led the nation when it comes to having Hispanic students earn diplomas, a new report released today shows. The 2013 Diplomas Count report put Florida's graduation rate for Hispanic students -- a group that has historically struggled to earn diplomas -- tops in the country for the second year in a row, the Florida Department of Education said. Florida's Hispanic graduation rate was 77.1 percent, compared to 68.1 percent for the nation. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

» Education Week's Diplomas Count 2013

Castor, Ross team up on bill to combat identity theft

Bipartisanship isn’t dead. Florida Reps. Kathy Castor, a Democrat from Tampa and Dennis Ross, a Republican from Lakeland, have introduced a bill that would truncate Social Security numbers on documents. “More than 70,000 Floridians were victims of identity theft in 2012," said Ross. "Truncating Social Security numbers will help eliminate the ability to steal someone else’s identity and commit fraud.” [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Book Review
Bush-Gore 2000: Chief justice feared a constitutional crisis

Inside Bush v. GoreBill Cotterell of Tallahassee Democrat writes:
If Gilbert and Sullivan sat down with Monty Python, and maybe Mel Brooks, they might come up with a more far-fetched farce than the political-judicial spectacle Florida treated the world to a little more than a dozen years ago. Now, Charley Wells, a dissenter in the 4-3 Florida Supreme Court decision, has made sense of it in 136 scholarly pages of his new book, “Inside Bush v. Gore.” It’s not that he or any other judges wanted Bush or Gore to win, he stresses. He just thought the chaos had to stop.
» Read review from Tallahassee Democrat