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Wilson OKs Measure on Church Arson

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<i> From Associated Press</i>

Gov. Pete Wilson signed several bills Thursday, including legislation creating a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone who sets fire to a church.

“Racial or religious hatred cannot be tolerated in a civilized society,” Wilson said in a prepared statement. “We must not sit by and allow the erosion of the fundamental liberty to worship freely without fear or persecution.”

The legislation was written by Assemblyman Kevin Murray (D-Los Angeles).

The bill “is an important first step in sending a message to hate groups that committing arson against a place of worship in California will be taken seriously and invoke the maximum sentence possible,” Murray said.

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The signing of the legislation came just days after an arsonist destroyed the New Home Missionary Baptist Church in Sacramento. The 200-member congregation is predominantly black.

Wilson also signed anti-crime legislation, by Assemblyman Charles S. Poochigian (R-Fresno), requiring a juvenile court to provide written notices that a minor has been found guilty of a felony offense.

The notices will go to the sheriff of the county in which the minor committed the felony and to the sheriff of the county in which the minor lives.

Wilson also signed bills that will:

* Increase the financial penalty and jail time for anyone who, while operating a motor vehicle, attempts to evade or flee from pursing police.

* Prohibit air pollution control districts from requiring retrofitting, removal or replacement of equipment and systems for the control of gasoline vapor emissions.

* Require administrators of residential care facilities to take an applicant’s past history of violence and mental illness into consideration when determining whether or not to admit an individual under the age of 60.

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* Alter the pesticide registration program by, among other things, clarifying licensing requirements, requiring better supervision of pest control workers and streamlining administrative procedures.

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