Deterrence is the objective
Corruption, like nature, abhors a vacuum. As new laws on transparency, civil service and election funding have taken root over the decades, corruption has settled into remaining niches.
Pennsylvania, of course, has maintained some of those niches. That has denied state-level prosecutors some tools to fight corruption And it often has resulted in federal prosecutors taking up the fight when corrupt politicians obligingly violate federal laws.
Finally, last week, the Legislature passed two bills to further fight corruption - both of which grew out of recent state-level scandals.
The new laws will extend whistleblower protections, which now cover most government employees in Pennsylvania, to employees of the Legislature and state government contractors.
One law grew out of the "Bonusgate" scandal that sent to prison some of the state's top legislators, including two former House speakers. The other flowed from the still unresolved contracting scandal involving the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
The laws ensure that employees of the Legislature or state contractors can bring their concerns to authorities without fear of reprisal.
Rather than prosecution of corruption, deterrence is the objective. Lawmakers deserve credit for adding the protection to their own institution and to the companies that do billions of dollars worth of government work.