Lowcountry garden experts offer advice on combatting pervasive Virginia buttonweed | Features

The luscious lawns fronting Lowcountry homes aren’t immune to the warm-weather weeds that can leave lasting effects. 

Doveweed, nutsedge and chamberbitter are a few troublesome herbs that garden caretakers regularly encounter during spring and summer months when they fight to maintain healthy green spaces. 



Gardening: Diagnosing a plant pest problem takes some legwork

But Lowcountry residents have increasingly encountered what some agree to be the monster of all weeds, one that returns and keeps attacking no matter how many times it’s sprayed with herbicides during the summer, or dug out of the ground.

The Virginia buttonweed is deeply rooted and thrives in overly moist lawns. The pervasive, dark-green turfgrass weed that produces tiny white flowers above ground can be seen in yards across the Charleston region. It sprawls across yards with no mercy, often leaving behind brown patches.

It isn’t only impacting South Carolina residents. 



Virginia buttonweed

Carol Turnwald Feldhaus works to get rid of the Virginia buttonweed in her Summerville front yard Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. The pervasive plant has invaded lawns across the Lowcountry and proves difficult to uproot. The plant is considered the “monster of all weeds,” according to some experts. It’s dark green and often identified by its white, above-ground flowers. Brad Nettles/Staff




The weed is rapidly spreading along Atlantic Coastal states and is now spreading inland in the United States, said Bert McCarty, professor of turfgrass science at Clemson University.

Randy Howie, who works in the diagnostics center at Hyams Garden and Accent Store, regularly sees customers who bring the plant to the store asking for solutions.

“The Virginia buttonweed has been the No. 1 thing people have brought in,” he said.

The weed has gained a presence in homeowner’s yards mainly due to its ability to produce both above and below-ground flowers, which in turn produce viable seeds, McCarty said.

Therefore, even it the tops are controlled or removed, the plant can still reproduce from below-ground seeds.



Summerville's Katie's Krops reflects on over a decade of national community garden work

What makes it even more frustrating is the herbicides used to kill Virginia buttonweed aren’t effective in weather above 90 degrees.

Howie recommends Weed Free Zone, but the product is only effective during cooler months, when the temperature is below 90.

Homeowners also can use Image Kills Nutsedge, though the product will only suppress the plant, not eradicate it.

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The main way people can combat the pervasive weed is with preventive measures, such as applying pre-emergent products in February, then again in May or early June. Doing so prevents buttonweed seeds left over from the previous year from germinating and producing more weeds the following summer.

“The key is prevention,” Howie said. “Preventing it as much as you can is going to give you the best control.”



Virginia buttonweed

Carol Turnwald Feldhaus works to eliminate Virginia buttonweed in her Summerville front yard Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. The pervasive plant has invaded lawns across the Lowcountry and proves difficult to uproot.

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Internal poll shows tight race in Virginia House race

Virginia Democrat Cameron Webb has a narrow lead over Republican Bob Good in the state’s 5th Congressional District, according to an internal poll released Friday by Webb’s campaign.

In the poll, which was obtained exclusively by The Hill, 45 percent of likely voters said they would back Webb while 42 percent said they would vote for Good. The survey marks an improvement for Webb after the same poll in August showed him behind by 2 points.

The results are split along partisan lines, but Webb has been able to win over 11 percent of Republican likely voters, while Good gets the support of 5 percent of likely Democratic voters. Webb has a 42-19 lead among independents, though another 39 percent are undecided.

Both candidates are only moderately well-known, with 65 percent of voters saying they’ve heard of Webb and 68 percent saying the same of Good.

“Voters across Virginia’s 5th District are sick of the same old partisan, Washington politics, which is why they’re responding to our message of putting people over party,” said Webb. “Our message of working for consensus and ensuring opportunities for health and success for everyone is resonating with voters. I look forward to continuing to reach out to voters all across the district in the remaining 25 days.”

Democrats are betting that Webb, a medical doctor who works with coronavirus patients, can make gains in the district after Good, a former Liberty University staffer, unseated Rep. Denver RigglemanDenver RigglemanWhy the Supreme Court must be kept at nine justices Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it MORE (R) at the GOP convention after Riggleman officiated a same-sex wedding.

The party sees the district moving in its direction after Republican Tom GarrettThomas (Tom) Alexander GarrettInternal poll shows neck-and-neck race brewing in Virginia House contest GOP congressman loses primary after officiating gay wedding Virginia GOP to pick House nominee after candidate misses filing deadline MORE won there by about 16 points in 2016, but Riggleman won his first term in 2018 by just over 6 points. 

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, rates the race in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District as a “toss up.”

The internal poll, conducted by Global Strategy Group, surveyed 500 likely voters from Sept. 27-Oct. 1 and has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

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Virginia GOP challenger confident in close House race that has outspent presidential campaigns

Millions of dollars have been spent so far on three congressional campaigns in hotly contested Virginia districts  — with one surpassing even the 2020 presidential campaigns and another close behind.

Advertising in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District topped $11 million earlier this week, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. The 2nd District racked up more than $8 million.

Those races are roughly in the ballpark of the combined costs of advertising for President Trump and Joe Biden, which total more than $9 million.

VIRGINIA SENATE DEBATE SEES WARNER, GADE GLASH ON TRUMP, RACE, HEALTH CARE

“I believe it’s one of the most expensive congressional races in the country already,” Joe Desilets, the campaign manager for the 7th District’s GOP candidate Nick Freitas told Fox News Thursday. “Just on TV and radio, there’s over $13 million between past and future spending in this election, and obviously there’s a ton more in mail, digital, and other campaign spending.”

Recent polls show him neck-and-neck with incumbent Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who is serving her first term after flipping the district in 2018.

Freitas’ campaign and supportive PACs have spent more than $4.4 million so far, compared to Spanberger’s $6.6 million. But Freitas is breaking GOP fundraising records, according to Desilets.

“We feel great about where the race is right now, and it’s clear that the Democrats are increasingly worried,” Desilets said. “Every time we turn around, they add another million dollars in attack ads.”

VIRGINIA SENATE RACE SEES UNDERDOG GOP CHALLENGER CONFIDENT DESPITE UPHILL BATTLE

Spanberger, a former federal law enforcement officer and ex-CIA case officer, is the first Democrat to win election in the district since 1968.

This combination of Sept. 29, photos shows President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

This combination of Sept. 29, photos shows President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

While at least three congressional races in the state are close, polls show Biden with an advantage in the presidential race. Virginia went to Hillary Clinton in 2016, and no Republican has won a statewide election there since 2009.

Still, ads supporting Biden have cost more than $6 million, roughly double what the other side has spent.

That combined total is barely ahead of the $8 million spent in the 2nd District race between incumbent Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria and GOP challenger Scott Taylor. Like Spanberger, Luria is serving her first term. She narrowly won the seat from Taylor two years ago.

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The 5th District race between Dr. Cameron Webb and Bob Good is also tight, with spending at around $4 million between the two camps.

The state’s Democratic Party summed the situation up simply in an email soliciting donations Thursday night.

“We’ve hit our fundraising goals every month this year, but here’s the thing: so have the Republicans.”

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House and Senate advance amended versions of Virginia budget

Two amended versions of Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposed budget bill advanced through their first committees in the Virginia House and Senate on Friday, with some concerns expressed by Republican lawmakers.



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Both versions include additional funding for broadband expansion, assistance for renters and tenants, money for education and allocations to pay for the criminal justice and policing reform bills advancing through the General Assembly.

A lot of initiatives the Virginia Legislature sought to include in the budget before the COVID-19 pandemic still are unfunded, such as pay raises for teachers and state employees, but will be reconsidered in January and adopted if revenue projections allow.

“We entered this Special Session with the mandate to balance a budget facing significantly reduced revenues while funding new policies that will make Virginia a safer, healthier, and more just Commonwealth,” House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, and House Appropriations Chairman Luke Torian, D-Dumfries, said in a joint statement.

“This budget introduced by the House (on Friday) meets our goals,” the statement read. “… We were proud of the historic budget we passed earlier this year. Unfortunately, the economic crisis requires us to defer many of the initiatives we adopted last March. We will be back in session in January with a formal forecast and the opportunity to make further strides toward achieving this majority’s priorities.”

The chambers’ budgets differ on how to allocate federal COVID-19 relief from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The House version establishes stricter requirements for how the federal funding will be allocated. The Senate version would grant greater discretion to Gov. Ralph Northam.

The Senate version includes a guaranteed $500 bonus for police that would cost about $18.4 billion. Although the House version does not include any guaranteed bonuses, it includes a potential $1,500 bonus for all state employees contingent on the state generating enough revenue.

Republicans in both chambers objected to the budgets funding some of the criminal justice and policing reform bills, many of which were passed with Democratic support and Republican opposition.

During Friday’s committee hearing, Del. Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, said criminal justice reform became too much of a focus during a special session that should have focused on prioritizing budget allocations amid the revenue shortfalls.

Sen. Steve Newman, R-Forest, told The Center Square many of the criminal justice reform bills passed along party lines and he voted against many of them. He does not support them being funded in the budget bill.

Newman said there are other problems with the bills, such as language he said could prevent landlords from initiating the process of evicting tenants. This language also drew concern from Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, who said the language needs some work.

Budget proposals often end up in joint conference committees, with delegates and senators working out the differences. During Friday’s hearing, Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee Chairperson Janet Howell, D-Reston, said this is just the beginning of a long process.

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Virginia legislator with covid warned his church, but House colleagues say they weren’t informed

But House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) said neither Wright nor his office officially notified his fellow legislators, who’d met with him a week earlier, on Aug. 18, when the House convened for one day in a basketball arena before moving the rest of a special legislative session to an online format.

While a guest column written by Wright, 72, popped up in a local publication criticizing Democratic House leaders for operating virtually, he had been absent from online House and committee meetings since Aug. 29. He returned for the first time Monday.

Since then, Wright and House Republicans have offered no explanation for his extended absence. He made no mention of his test Monday and was not asked about it publicly.

Wright and a spokesman for House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday, after The Washington Post and other news outlets obtained a copy of Mulchi’s email to the church.

Filler-Corn, who’s faced harsh Republican criticism for the decision to go virtual, welcomed Wright back Tuesday with wishes for good health — and a rebuke for keeping House members in the dark. She said in a statement that she was “incredibly disappointed” that he and GOP leaders did not disclose the positive test to the legislature.

There is no requirement that legislators disclose personal health information, but Filler-Corn suggested that Wright owed a warning to those he could have exposed.

“This lack of transparency when it comes to this highly contagious disease is incredibly troubling,” she wrote. “Every Delegate and individual present at the Siegel Center on August 18th had a right to know of Delegate Wright’s reported positive test for their safety, their family’s safety and the safety of their communities.”

A legislator since 2001, Wright is not the first lawmaker known to have tested positive for the virus during the special session. Sen. Bryce E. Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) tested positive in mid-August. His fellow senators, who’ve been convening in a sprawling meeting room at the Science Museum of Virginia, were immediately notified.

The novel coronavirus has a relatively long incubation period, and people infected with it have been found to spread it before they experience symptoms covid-19, the illness the virus causes.

Filler-Corn has said that meeting remotely is the best way to keep the state’s 100 delegates safe during the special session, which was called to address the pandemic’s effect on the state budget and to overhaul criminal justice in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May.

House Democrats resorted to procedural gymnastics to overcome GOP opposition to the rules change that has allowed the House to convene online. Republicans, some hailing from districts with poor Internet service, have complained that virtual meetings are unworkable and unnecessary for health considerations.

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A Navy officer and a Navy SEAL will face off again in coastal Virginia House district

A pair of decorated Navy veterans are, again, competing fiercely for a coastal Virginia House seat that’s home to a swath of military installations.

Rep. Elaine Luria, who swept into office in the 2018 Democratic wave, faces former Rep. Scott Taylor, a Republican she ousted as his campaign reeled from petition scandal.

Capturing support from military voters is key in the 2nd Congressional District, which runs from Virginia Beach to Williamsburg and includes eight major military installations.

Luria is an Annapolis graduate who rose to the rank of commander and spent the majority of her career deployed on Navy ships. In the House, she’s a member of the Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs committees.

Taylor enlisted in the Navy after high school and made it to the SEALs. During the Iraq War, Taylor was a SEAL sniper and spent two years as a SEAL instructor, teaching marksmanship and reconnaissance, among other roles in the elite unit.

He then turned toward politics, with a three-year stint in Virginia’s House of Delegates before winning the open 2nd Congressional District seat in 2016.

But Taylor’s reelection bid against Luria got derailed when, in August 2018, a special prosecutor started investigating reports that members of his campaign staff had added fake names to ballot access petitions intended to help an independent candidate. One campaign aide was charged, though Taylor hasn’t been.

Like much of Virginia, the 2nd District in recent years has become more competitive for Democrats. President Trump beat Hillary Clinton there in 2016, 48%-45%. But Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam won the district in 2017, as did Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine in his 2018 reelection bid.

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Democrats Close to Flipping Virginia House District Trump Won by 11 Points, Internal Poll Shows

One point.

That is how much Democrat Dr. Cameron Webb, is trailing Republican Bob Good, a self-described “biblical conservative,” for Virginia’s open 5th Congressional District, according to an internal Democratic poll provided to Newsweek.

The survey suggests that the district, currently held by Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman, who was endorsed by President Donald Trump but was ousted by his party during a June nominating convention after he officiated a same-sex wedding, is becoming increasingly in play for Democrats. Despite Trump winning the district, which stretches from the North Carolina border nearly to Washington, D.C., by 11 points in 2016, Dr. Webb has continued to close his gap with Good.

Riggleman’s ouster for the more conservative Good, who is a former athletics official at Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Liberty University, weakened the chances that a Republican would maintain control of the district, according to election forecasters. However, analysts like Inside Elections, the Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball still rate the race as “leans Republican.”

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Dr. Webb is one of 34 candidates that House Democrats are looking to help them increase their majority in the lower chamber.

The internal poll was conducted by the Democratic firm Global Strategy Group for 314 Action, an organization that’s committed to electing scientists and STEM professionals to elected office. It showed 46 percent of likely voters backing Dr. Webb while 47 percent went for Good. The survey was conducted among 400 likely general election voters between September 10-14, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.

Dr. Webb is now within one point of Good thanks to a five-point gain since August, per 314 Action’s internal polling. By comparison, Riggleman cruised to re-election in 2018, beating his Democratic opponent by seven points.

Cameron Webb
Democratic congressional candidate for Virginia’s 5th District, Dr. Cameron Webb, is seen here teaching in 2019. A new internal poll provided to Newsweek shows Dr. Webb trailing his GOP opponent, Bob Good, by a singular point.
Courtesy of the Webb Campaign

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“Cameron’s background, taken in its entirety, is very impactful to voters right now,” Mia Ehrenberg, Dr. Webb’s communications director, told Newsweek.

Dr. Webb, who practices general internal medicine in Charlottesville and teaches at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, held brief White House stints under both Barack Obama and Donald Trump, dealing with health care policy and economic development. He worked on Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative during the final six months of Obama’s tenure, and on prescription drug prices for the first eight months of Trump’s presidency.

The Good campaign did not respond to Newsweek‘s request for comment as of the time of publication. This story will be updated if a response is received.

Both candidates’ familiarity among constituents has jumped in the last month. Sixty percent indicated in the poll that they’re now familiar with Dr. Webb while 63 percent are familiar with Good.

In terms of favorability, Good still trailed Dr. Webb.

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Virginia bill to open police investigation records passes House of Delegates

A bill that would open past police investigative files to the public sailed through the Virginia House of Delegates on Thursday.



a car parked in a parking lot: A bill that could open past police investigative files to the public would further allow relatives to learn more about what happened in particular cases, such as the families of those killed in the May 2019 shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.


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A bill that could open past police investigative files to the public would further allow relatives to learn more about what happened in particular cases, such as the families of those killed in the May 2019 shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.

Sponsored by Del. Chris Hurst, D-Blacksburg and other lawmakers, the legislation to amend the state’s open records law passed on a 59-37 vote.

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Though it was mostly a party line vote carried by Democrats, five Republicans crossed over to support the bill. It could come up for Senate hearings next week.

If it becomes law, the measure could begin to end state law enforcement agencies’ longstanding practice of shielding nearly all their files from the public — whether they are incident reports from last week or files that haven’t been looked at in decades.

Though the Virginia Freedom of Information Act currently allows police, prosecutors and sheriff’s offices statewide to release such files if they want to, the departments typically say no to all such requests.

The bill says that “criminal investigative files” become public in Virginia when a court case is over. In cases that haven’t been prosecuted, the bill says, the files would become public three years after the incident occurred.

The legislation separately increases what police departments and sheriff’s agencies must release about more recent criminal incidents.

Proponents contend the changes will allow outside organizations to examine past cases independently, and allow families to get closure in death cases.

“We can’t do our basic work, we can’t investigate, without these files,” said Michelle Feldman, an official with the Innocence Project, a nonprofit group that works to overturn wrongful convictions.

“These files contain the critical information used to follow up on leads,” added Feldman, who’s been working to support the legislation. “After an investigation is completed, it really doesn’t make sense to withhold them.”

She said the bill would also allow the public to better examine police shootings, which she pointed out are typically investigated by the officers’ own agencies.

“If the public can’t get those records about what the investigation found, how are they ever going to have comfort that officers were justified in using force?” Feldman asked.

The bill would further allow relatives to learn more about what happened in particular cases, such as the families of those killed in the May 2019 shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.

“They can’t get closure because they are not getting the full truth and the full picture,” Feldman said.

But those against the legislation say the police investigative files contain lots of sensitive information — including evidence from witnesses and information about other crimes — that must be protected.

“We oppose efforts to make criminal investigative files public without law enforcement’s discretion,” Dana G. Schrad, the executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police,

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Virginia House of Delegates approves bills making it easier to remove Confederate statues and eliminating qualified immunity for police

That bill, part of a package of legislation overhauling police oversight, failed last week when a couple of Democrats voted against their majority. Del. Ibraheem S. Samirah (D-Fairfax) said he voted against it to try to add language limiting local funding for police, but he dropped that effort Tuesday and asked that the bill be reconsidered. It passed 49 to 45 with two abstentions.

The House also voted to give the state attorney general authority to conduct “pattern or practice” investigations of local police departments if they are alleged to be systematically violating the rights of citizens.

All the bills will head next to the state Senate, which has already killed its own version of a qualified immunity measure.

The statues bill removes the requirement that a local government wait 30 days and hold a public hearing before voting on the removal of a memorial. It passed on a vote of 54 to 43, with all Republicans voting against it along with one Democrat.

Del. Delores L. McQuinn (D-Richmond) sponsored the bill to address what she called “the safety issue” after protesters began tearing down Confederate statues over the summer in demonstrations against racial inequity. A protester in Portsmouth was critically injured when a falling Confederate statue struck him on the head.

During the regular legislative session that ended in March, Democrats, who control both chambers of the General Assembly, established a legal mechanism for removing statues. It took effect July 1, but the measure’s lengthy review process failed to satisfy Virginia demonstrators’ urgent calls for action on Confederate memorials after the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney invoked a state of emergency to remove 11 Confederate monuments on city property on the day the law went into effect. The city council later held a public hearing and voted to make the removals permanent.

An anonymous local resident filed suit against Stoney’s action, but the Supreme Court of Virginia ruled that the plaintiff lacked legal standing in the case.

The change to the law would allow localities to adopt a lengthier review process but would not require it.

Del. Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) objected last week during a committee hearing on the bill, saying he wanted to “make sure the public has input” into such decisions.

McQuinn said the public would have input through elected officials and noted that local governments would be free to set up any process they saw fit.

“We’re giving the authority back to the localities without a lot of strings attached,” McQuinn said during the hearing.

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No more chokeholds, no-knock warrants, Virginia House says in mostly party-line votes

The passage of the 11 police-overhaul bills, which now must be voted on by the state Senate and signed by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) if they are to go into effect, mark key points in the House Democrats’ legislative agenda for the special session, which began in person on Aug. 18 and has since been conducted online because of the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats won the majority in both chambers of the General Assembly last fall after decades of control by the Republican Party.

Also on Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed into law a package of bills, advanced by Democrats and passed by both chambers last week, that would broaden access to absentee voting, including creating drop boxes for ballots — another key issue for Democrats.

“Virginia is making it easier to vote in the upcoming election—not harder,” Northam tweeted Friday afternoon.

Only one measure Democrats put forward was defeated — a bill that would have allowed victims to sue police if an officer failed to intervene when a victim was deprived of their rights by another officer. That bill was defeated by a single vote.

Republicans attacked the bills as “anti-police,” but Democrats asserted that elected officials ought to listen to their constituents as well as police, many of whom supported some of the bills.

“While people say we’ve been rushing, we’ve been waiting for quite some time,” Del. Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico) said during debates on the bills Thursday. “This is not a war against police. This is a war for justice, for each and every citizen of the Commonwealth.”

Del. Ronnie Campbell (R-Rockbridge), objecting to the proposal to ban police use of neck restraints such as chokeholds, noted that the Senate has amended its bill to allow exceptions if the officer is in fear for his life. Without chokeholds, police would have no option when in a fight but to pull their gun, he said.

But House Democrats would not allow a similar amendment, asserting that police have other options to control suspects.

House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) said some members of his party would have supported some of the bills if the majority had been willing to compromise.

“Much of the legislation rammed through today by Democrats had the potential to be thoughtful reforms of how police do businesses,” he said in a statement after Friday’s session. “Sadly, the majority was so bent on punishing law enforcement that they refused to listen to reason.”

The bills that passed the House would:

● ban sexual relations between officers and arrestees;

● eliminate minor pretexts for traffic stops;

● codify the ability of prosecutors to dismiss charges;

● ban no-knock search warrants;

● require any officer to report the misconduct of another;

● require police to stop the use of excessive force by another officer;

● allow decertification of an officer who is fired or resigns due to violation of law or departmental policies and procedures, or during an internal investigation;

● ban the use of chokeholds;

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