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Undecided Primaries, Testing For Special Education Students, & Marijuana Decriminalization In DC

Absentee ballots could end up deciding the victors in several Maryland primaries; counting of those ballots starts today. Maryland has been ruled noncompliant with the federal rules that apply to testing special-education students. Congressman Andy Harris pushes to stop a DC law that would decriminalize marijuana possession (but the legal ramifications of Harris’s amendment are unclear). Plus: solar power in Pocomoke city, sidewalk renovations in Thurmont, today’s US/Germany World Cup match, and more.Some Primaries Still Undecided: Some of Tuesday's primary election races were so close that absentee ballots may determine the winner. One of those is the race for the Republican nomination for Baltimore County Executive. After the ballots cast Tuesday and during early voting were counted, former Environment Department program manager George Harman had a 22 vote lead over Towson University political science professor Tony Campbell. About 600 absentee ballots were cast in that primary; officials tell the Baltimore Sun that they’ll start counting them today. Whoever wins the nomination will face incumbent Democratic Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz in the fall. There are several other races awaiting an outcome… a Republican County Council primary in Anne Arundel County has the top two contenders 36 votes apart. Also in Anne Arundel: there’s only a 3 vote split in a Republican State Senate primary. And just 46 votes separate two Republican candidates for a Harford County Council seat.

MD Found Noncompliant With Testing Rules For Special Education Students: Maryland has been ruled noncompliant with the federal rules that apply to testing special-education students. Federal officials say that Maryland excluded 66 percent of fourth-graders with disabilities from the National Assessment of Educational Testing. That’s the highest percentage in the nation, more than four times the national exclusion rate of 16 percent. And because of that high rate, officials say that Maryland’s recent scores on the national test were inflated. The Baltimore Sun reports that the state will have to pressure local school systems to give more students the test. It’s the individual schools that decide which students are excluded from the assessment, and while Maryland education officials have been urging superintendents to have more special education students take the test for years, more needs to be done.

Harris Puts Forth Amendment On DC Marijuana Decriminalization: The Republican-controlled U.S. House is blocking funding for Washington, DC's new law decriminalizing marijuana possession. 1st District Maryland Congressman Andy Harris led the effort, saying pot poses a medical risk to users. DC leaders want to make marijuana possession punishable by a civil fine of $25. The marijuana law is scheduled to take effect next month, but Harris’s amendment to a federal spending bill would prevent any funds from being spent to enforce it. However, the Washington Post reports that Harris’s amendment could essentially legalize pot in the nation’s capital, as the spending bill likely won’t get a vote until after the decriminalization measure goes into effect next month – meaning police wouldn’t be able to issue the civil fines to people caught with the drug. The DC Attorney General’s office is looking into the legal matters raised by the amendment. A law that would decriminalize marijuana possession in Maryland takes effect in October.

Baltimore County Police Cadet Charged With Stealing Drugs: A Baltimore County police cadet has charged with stealing drugs and money from an evidence room… and has been fired. Police Chief Jim Johnson says the cadet stole Oxycodone, cocaine, morphine and other drugs worth tens of thousands of dollars. The Baltimore Sun has more.

Groundbreaking For Solar Power Plant In Pocomoke City: Electricity bills in Pocomoke City on the Eastern Shore are expected to drop by about 16 percent… once a solar power plant there is up and running. Groundbreaking for the project took place yesterday. When finished, it will include more than 6-thousand solar panels… and will likely be the largest municipally owned solar system in the state. Pocomoke City isn’t footing any of the bill for the project’s construction, but the Daily Times notes that it’s entered into a 20 year partnership with Sun Edison to buy power generated by the solar array. The project is expected to be done by December.

Sidewalk Renovations In Thurmont: The sidewalks in the Frederick County town of Thurmont are getting a facelift. The State Highway Administration will spend more than $730-thousand on a project that will widen Thurmont’s sidewalks and make them accessible to people with disabilities. The work’s expected to begin in the middle of next month. The Frederick News Post has more.

Sinkhole Repair On Rt. 50: Thunderstorms last night delayed repairs on a sinkhole along Rt. 50 near Annapolis. The State Highway Administration now says repairs should begin tonight at 8 just east of I-97.  Detours will be in effect and all lanes will be reopened by 5am Friday. Crews will take a break Friday night because of beach traffic, but repairs will continue from Saturday night into Sunday morning. The Capital Gazette has more.

Lightning Strikes Harford Man: A Harford County man suffered non-life-threatening injuries after being struck by lightning Wednesday night. Authorities say the Fallston man was opening his garage door from the inside at his home on Canterbury Lane when he was struck. The victim was transported to an area hospital for treatment. WJZ has more.

Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles beat the Chicago White Sox last night, in a 12-inning game. The final score was 5 to 4. The O’s are off today; tomorrow, they welcome the Tampa Bay Rays to Baltimore for a double header.

Washington Baseball: the Washington Nationals lost yesterday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers; the score was 9 to 2.

World Cup: The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore is hosting a World Cup viewing party today in Federal Hill. The event is being held at Delia Foley's pub at the corner of Charles Street and Fort Avenue. Today's match between the United States and Germany begins at noon.