Now that the state Legislature is officially back — sworn in Jan. 3; actually comes to work Jan. 23 — maybe it should consider trying something new.

I mean other than working full-time.

See, there's this, you may have noticed, image problem having to do with what seems an endless parade of members being charged with crimes.

This is especially noticeable in (of course!) Philadelphia. You no doubt recall that string of lawmakers forced out of office after caught taking cash in a sting case.

This week, South Philadelphia state Sen. Larry Farnese is to go on trial for allegedly bribing a local Democratic committeewoman so he could keep his ward leader post.

And just last week, state House Speaker Mike Turzai scheduled a special election to replace North Philadelphia Democratic state Rep. Leslie Acosta who resigned earlier this month after it was learned months ago she's a confessed felon (money laundering).

Now, according to state officials, it costs taxpayers roughly $175,000 to put on a special election in Philadelphia when that election doesn't coincide with an already scheduled primary or general election.

That's the case in this case. The special election to replace Acosta is March 21.

So here's an idea. Going forward, if any lawmaker leaves or is ousted for bad behavior and a special election is called to replace him or her, let's have a law saying he or she pays the costs of the special election.

Or, if we want to build some accountability into our Legislature or our political parties, let's have legislative caucuses or state parties pay the price.

Taxpayers already suffer enough due to ne'er-do-wells in public office. We shouldn't have to bear the cost of replacing them as well.

Just a thought.