Lawmakers approved legislation Monday that will allow former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin to be removed from the ballot ahead of the upcoming June primary election.

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the legislation Monday night, marking a major change to state election law that enables the Democratic governor to untether herself from a running mate currently under federal indictment. Benjamin resigned from his post nearly three weeks ago after being arrested on multiple corruption charges stemming from campaign finance violations.

Previously, the options for removing a candidate from the ballot after receiving a designation were limited. The person could be nominated for a different party position, or alternatively would need to move out of state or die before the ballots are printed.

Under the new law (S8949/A10135), any candidate can file paperwork to decline their ballot position if the individual faces state or federal misdemeanor or felony charges, or is convicted of a crime. But that paperwork must be filed before the deadline to certify the ballots, which happens this year on Wednesday, May 4th.

The legislation was introduced last Friday, at Hochul’s request, and moved swiftly through Assembly and Senate committees on Monday before a lengthy floor debate and vote.

While it passed both chambers, a handful of Democrats joined Republican lawmakers in opposing the legislation, citing how it was crafted to explicitly address the current legal problems confronting Benjamin and the political ones facing Hochul.

“This is what people hate about politics and some politicians,” said Sen. Andrew Lanza, a Republican from Staten Island. “This legislation is before this house here and now because Gov. Hochul was worried about one thing: getting elected.”

From there, Lanza and others pivoted to lobbing political attacks against Hochul more broadly, from her support for specific Covid mitigation policies to her proposed changes to the state’s bail reform policies.

The bill’s Senate sponsor, Liz Krueger, a Democrat from Manhattan, responded both to the political attacks and defended the bill on its merits. She said the law should not require a candidate who has been indicted and resigned from the office to be legally required to remain on the ballot.

“It’s not that complicated,” Krueger said. She added, “there's no conspiracy here, either to cause what happened to happen, or certainly not to try to offer a resolution to a problem we find ourselves in. It's a very short, very clear cut bill.”

While the bill received enough support to pass the Senate by a vote of 33-29, some prominent Democrats were among those who voted no including Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris and Sen. Zellnor Myrie of Brooklyn, who chairs the Senate elections committee.

In the Assembly, the vote was 82-57 just before 7:30 p.m. Monday.

That approval came after Republicans attempted to introduce an amendment that would change the effective date of the legislation to January 2023, as opposed to now, as the legislation is written.

Avi Small, a spokesperson for Hochul, declined to comment on when the bill would be signed.

At the same time the legislature was debating the legislation, Benjamin issued his own statement on Twitter where he continued to state that he was, “innocent of these unsubstantiated charges” but committed to submit the paperwork required to remove him from the ballot.

This story was updated to reflect news of the governor signing the legislation.

“I would be unable to serve under these circumstances,” a weary-looking Benjamin said looking into the camera. “I want to thank all of my constituents and supporters for giving me the opportunity to serve.”