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Special Session Developments & Nightly News Roundup

(cc) Crashworks (flickr.com)

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX –

A House committee has approved a measure to keep important state agencies operating.

The House Committee on State Affairs unanimously approved the bill - a cornerstone of the special session - about an hour after the Legislature convened Wednesday.

The bill by Rep. Carl Isset, R-Lubbock, will keep five state agencies, including the Texas Department of Transportation, operating until the next regularly scheduled session in 2011. Failure to pass the agency reauthorizations or a "safety net" during the regular session forced the need for the special session.

Under Texas sunset law, the Legislature is required to regularly review and reauthorize state agencies. The bill can now be scheduled for consideration by the full House.

System Chancellor Given "No Confidence" vote

The Texas A&M University faculty has given the system chancellor a "no confidence" vote.

The Faculty Senate passed a resolution directed at A&M System Chancellor Mike McKinney just weeks after the resignation of university President Elsa Murano. Murano, the first female and first Hispanic in the university's history, resigned after McKinney gave her first 17 months on the job a dismal review.

The troubles with Murano came shortly after McKinney said the regents were considering combining his job with that of the university president to save money. That suggestion angered many faculty members.

Immigration Measures

Immigration officers are investigating workplaces in every state in the U.S. to check whether they are hiring illegal workers.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement told members of Congress in an e-mail Wednesday morning that it is beginning audits of documents that employees fill out when they are hired. The documents are known as I-9's.

President Barack Obama has said his administration's strategy for stemming illegal immigration is focusing on employers who hire illegal workers.

The Bush administration was criticized for raiding businesses and arresting workers but not doing enough to go after the employers who hire them.

Space Camp Inductees

NASA has chosen two Space Camp graduates as part of the nine 2009 inductees into the astronaut corps.

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center announced that the Space Camp alums - 30-year-old Kathleen Rubins of Cambridge, Mass., and 33-year-old Serena Aunon of League City, Texas - were selected from more than 3,500 applicants.

Aunon attended the Advanced Space Academy in 1992 when she was in the 11th grade. She is currently a flight surgeon for the space shuttle, space station and Constellation program at the University of Texas Medical.

Rubins, who attended Space Camp in 1990, is a principal investigator and fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.

Mexico Reports Cash Decline

Mexico says money sent home by citizens working abroad fell 19.9 percent in May, the biggest monthly decline since it started keeping records in 1996. The central bank says remittances dropped to $1.9 billion from $2.37 billion in May 2008 as recession boosted unemployment in the neighboring United States.