This story has been updated.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- As former leaders of both chambers of the New York Legislature face criminal charges, the state Senate on Monday passed a bill to double the length of their terms, from two to four years.
The State Constitutional Amendment -- a time-intensive change in the law which still requires approval by the Assembly, governor, next legislature and New York voters -- sailed through the Republican-led Senate by a vote of 47-15.
State Sen. George Latimer, a Democrat from Rye, was the only senator from the Hudson Valley region to vote against the proposed amendment.
Sponsored by Sen. Tony Avella, a Queens Democrat, Senate Bill 894 now goes to the state Assembly for consideration as the current legislative session nears an end. "My bill to increase legislative terms from two to four years is, at its core, good government legislation," Avella said in a statement.
Sen. Dean Skelos of Long Island, former majority leader of the state Senate, was among the Republicans casting a "yes" vote for a four-year term on Monday, despite the fact he was arrested with his son last month on federal charges of extortion, fraud and soliciting bribes.
In January, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, gave up his leadership post, after his federal indictment on bribery and kickback charges .
If the Assembly passes the amendment, it would go Gov. Andrew Cuomo. If Cuomo signs it, it would have to be passed by the next Legislature, the one elected in 2016. Then it goes to statewide voter referendum, likely in November 2017.
Latimer said, "If it gets to referendum, I can't see it passing. But I'm shocked so many senators voted for it right now."
Avella added, "This is a first step towards true campaign finance reform."
By eliminating an election cycle, Avella explained, "we can lessen the influence of lobbyists' campaign donations, while simultaneously saving up to 50 percent of taxpayer electoral funds."
Latimer added, "No one in the public thinks legislators deserve a longer term, given current results and behaviors. We have to prove we can earn that trust over an extended time before we even discuss length of term."
But Avella believes that when Albany's legislators are no longer in a cycle of reelection, "elected officials can spend less time campaigning and more time on the issues that truly matter."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.