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A victory for safety

It's only June, but North Coast high school football players already are getting ready for the upcoming season. More than ever, players, coaches, administrators and, of course, parents are attuned to the risk of head injuries. Santa Rosa City Schools plans to expand on a year-old program that includes education sessions and baseline cognitive testing for football players and other young athletes. The district also hopes to hire trainers.

A big change is likely for the 2015 season. A bill on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk would limit full contact practices for middle and high school teams to 90 minutes on a single day and allow only two full-contact practices per week during the season. They would be prohibited during the off-season. That's a good call.

Bad judgment

California can't afford a two-steps-forward, one-step-back approach to pension reform. And it will be exponentially harder to bring the cost of retirement systems under control if the highest-paid public employees get special treatment. Figured out where this is headed? A bill pending in Sacramento would relieve seven judges from pension reform rules that took effect this year, calpensions.com reported.

The judges, who are paid more than $180,000 a year, were elected in 2012, but they weren't sworn in until 2013. As a result, they must contribute 15 percent of their salary toward their retirement benefits, compared to 8 percent for judges who already were on the bench in 2012. Judges were exempted from several of the pension reforms affecting other public employees. There's no need for another one.

Still plugged in

Sonoma Clean Power, the newly formed public electricity provider, has generated its share of controversy. We've expressed some reservations of our own, but the agency was organized in compliance with state law, and its initial rates are less than PG&E charges. So it would have been unfair to change the rules before its roll-out was completed. Some board members say a change contemplated in Sacramento would have been more than unfair; it was potential fatal. The bill would have converted the opt-out system — where residents are signed up unless they take steps to stay out — into an opt-in system. That provision was dropped from AB 2145 during a Senate Committee hearing next week, allowing Sonoma Clean Power to move forward.

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