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A so-so session for the aquifer

San Antonio state legislators did a mediocre job of protecting the Edwards Aquifer from polluting development this session, according to a scorecard by Aquifer Guardians in Urban Areas and the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance. Rookie representative David Leibowitz, a Democrat, received the highest grade, voting on legislation to protect the Edwards Aquifer 75 percent of the time.

Legislators who always voted against AGUA and GEAA, Republican reps Frank Corte, Edmund Kuempel, Joe Straus, and Senator Jeff Wentworth, received a zero.

GEAA was split on Democratic Senator Frank Madla, who received a score of 22. Madla was aggressive in protecting San Antonio in a bill that would have eliminated all land-use regulation in the state, and another that would have prohibited the Edwards Aquifer Authority from regulating water quality. However, Madla authored what is known as the "water hustlers bill," which would have removed local control of water resources for Kinney County. The bill died in committee.

- Nicole Chavez


FEMA followup

The Federal Emergency Management Agency last week issued a list of reimbursable expenses to local governments, although not a timeline for when communities will receive the money. Historically, FEMA has been slow to reimburse communities for disaster-related expenses. `See related story, "Payback time," September 15-21, 2005.`

Gary Jones, FEMA federal coordinating officer and disaster recovery manager, notified U.S. Senator John Cornyn's office of the reimbursable items, including operating costs for shelters, food, water, cots, janitorial services, medical staff for emergency care, security, temporary classroom buildings, transportation for evacuees and their pets.

Not eligible for reimbursement are churches and other faith-based organizations providing shelters, host families taking in evacuees, and extra teachers and books to accommodate extra students. For a full list, go to http://cornyn.senate.gov

Cornyn also announced that he has received assurance from Mark McClellan, the head of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services that Texas won't have to pay Medicaid costs incurred by hurricane victims who are living temporarily in the state.

By Lisa Sorg


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