5 Things to Know in Florida for Sept. 20

5 Things to Know in FloridaYour daily look at news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today.

FLORIDA’S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE UP SLIGHTLY

Florida’s unemployment rate was up slightly in August and Gov. Rick Scott is trying to make the best of the report released Friday. The August rate of 6.3 percent is up slightly from 6.2 percent in July and remains above the national average of 6.1 percent. The state’s unemployment rate has been flat all year, beginning at 6.2 percent in January. Gov. Rick Scott has made job creation the central theme of his re-election campaign and chose to point out that 23,000 private sector jobs were created in August, rather than focusing on the slight uptick in the unemployment rate. He called the report “great news.”

FLORIDA FELON KILLS HIS 6 GRANDCHILDREN

An ex-convict who killed six of his grandchildren, his adult daughter and himself had been in and out of jail and spent time in prison for accidentally shooting his son to death during a hunting trip, according to authorities and records. Don Spirit, 51, called 911 on Thursday afternoon from his home to say that he might hurt himself or others. By the time a deputy arrived at his home in this small town outside Gainsville, Spirit had committed suicide, according to Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert Schultz. He says the bodies of his daughter and her six children were found “all over the property.”

COURT HOLDS TESTY HEARING ON SECRET EVIDENCE

A lawyer representing a Republican consultant clashed with Florida Supreme Court justices over secret evidence used in the state’s landmark trial on redistricting. The high court is deciding whether emails and documents taken from a Gainesville political consulting firm should have been used in the case.

EX-HOUSE CANDIDATE PRISON TERM CUT

A federal judge has reduced the prison sentence from seven months to 30 days for a former U.S. House candidate who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations in a case linked to Republican ex-Rep. David Rivera. U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga agreed with prosecutors Friday that Justin Sternad deserved credit for his extensive cooperation in the Rivera investigation. She also sentenced Sternad to three months’ house arrest.

FORMER U.S. REP SPEAKS ON SON’S SUICIDE

Former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart is speaking out about his son’s suicide and the need for more preventative mental health services. The attorney and former Miami congressman spoke Thursday before a U.S. House subcommittee, encouraging lawmakers to work together to promote suicide prevention and educate the public about the need for intervention to get treatment to those in mental health crises. Diaz-Balart’s spokeswoman said the testimony marked the first time he has spoken publicly about his son’s death.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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