The Washington Times - September 15, 2011, 08:28AM

The Virginia Board of Health today is expected to vote on draft regulations that would impose hospital-level building and operating requirements on the state’s 21 abortion clinics. Abortion foes say the regulations are necessary to protect women’s health in the clinics, which perform first-trimester abortions. Second-trimester abortions must be performed in hospitals. Abortion-rights advocates say the new regulations are a backdoor attempt to outlaw abortion in the commonwealth by limiting access to the services. They argue that the costly structural changes mandated by the regulations could force the closure of 17 or more of the clinics for noncompliance, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

A Senate leader in the Democrat-controlled Maryland General Assembly said Wednesday that a proposal to increase the state’s gas tax might get shelved during its 2012 session because of anticipated budget woes and public outcry. State Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, Baltimore County Democrat and chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, said legislators likely will have their hands full attempting to close an anticipated $1 billion budget shortfall and might not get around to considering a proposal to raise the 23.5-cents-a-gallon excise tax, according to The Washington Times. A state-appointed commission recommended last week that lawmakers pass $520 million in tax and fee increases to fund improvements to aging road and transit infrastructure. The state has not raised its gas tax since 1992, but opponents of an increase contend it will burden residents already dealing with tough economic times.

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry used much of his keynote speech at a Republican fundraiser Wednesday to attack the policies of President Obama, firing up the party faithful who turned out for a glimpse of the GOP presidential front-runner. “Our people reject the idea of a Western European caretaker state,” he said to roaring applause, saying that the first thing he would do when he walked into the Oval Office would be to sign an executive order to “wipe out as much of Obamacare as I can,” referring to Mr. Obama’s health care overhaul, according to The Washington Times.

A D.C. spending bill passed the first of two hurdles this week when it emerged from a Senate subcommittee without any amendments that would restrict local officials from spending city money on controversial social programs. The bill heads to the full Senate Committee on Appropriations on Thursday, after members of the subcommittee on financial services and general government did not attach any amendments, or riders, prohibiting spending on locally funded abortions, needle exchanges or other programs, according to The Washington Times.

After the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon a decade ago, the U.S. Small Business Administration gave out nearly $16 million in loans to 116 Maryland-based businesses who claimed to be hurt by the disaster. Many of the loans were not repaid, and at least a dozen of the companies are out of business, according to the Maryland Reporter.

Michaele Salahi, the woman who made headlines for crashing a White House party, was reported missing Tuesday night by her husband, but a police report Wednesday afternoon states she is safe and just needed time away from home. Mrs. Salahi “had left the residence with a good friend and was where she wanted to be,” according to a statement from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. “Mrs. Salahi advised that she did not want Mr. Salahi to know where she was.” Celebrity gossip news website TMZ reports Mrs. Salahi was in Memphis, Tenn., with Neal Schon, the lead guitarist for the band Journey. A representative for Mr. Schon confirmed to TMZ the pair were together at the band’s joint show with Foreigner, according to The Washington Times. There is speculation the incident is another publicity stunt.

University of Maryland police are searching for a man believed to have sexually assaulted a student while she was sleeping in her dorm room last week. The incident took place about 3:30 a.m. Friday while the student, an unidentified woman, was asleep in the Leonardtown apartment complex on the College Park campus. She awoke to find a man she did not recognize in her bed, fondling her breasts and torso, police reported in a safety bulletin. According to police, the man fled through a window after the student screamed, according to The Washington Post.