It's about time
Analysts often have pointed to the "culture" of the state Legislature in explaining the long and inglorious history of corruption residing there.
Well, true enough. But that "culture" is not some natural phenomenon. It is entirely man-made, created and enforced by the politicians who benefit from it. One of its key components is a system of rewards for those who accommodate the culture and retribution for those who reject it.
That's possible partially because the Legislature deliberately exempted itself from the whistleblower protection law it passed in 1986, which shields from retribution local government employees and state executive branch employees who reveal corruption.
Finally ending exemption
It's a solid step in the right direction, then, that lawmakers finally have gotten around to ending that exemption. Beginning Sept. 1, employees of the General Assembly and of nonprofit organizations and companies that receive state money will have the same protection from retribution as local and state executive branch workers.
Lawmakers should follow their own lead by eliminating their exemptions in state laws governing some public records and other aspects of transparency.
Many of those exemptions arise from separation-of-powers concerns, but history shows that the exemptions too often serve as cover.