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Politics & Government

Plan to Raise State Judges’ Mandatory Retirement Age Advances

State judges in Pennsylvania are one step closer to being allowed to serve until age 75 before they must retire.

A state House panel has approved a measure to increase the mandatory retirement age by five years.

Supporters say it strikes the right balance – updating the age limit for the first time since 1968, without increasing it to the point it would severely limit turnover in the courts.

Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery County) notes changing the mandatory retirement age would require amending the state constitution.

"We just started this session, so, we’re really talking a minimum of four or five years before this even gets to the voters, if it gets to the voters," she said. "Then the voters would be able to amend the constitution if they wanted to, move the mandatory retirement age from 70 to 75."

While the measure passed out of committee, some lawmakers are concerned it would amount to a financial burden on the commonwealth in the way of pensions.

Meanwhile, a number of challenges to the age limit are pending in federal and state courts.

Rep. Brian Ellis (R-Butler County) noted the reaction from the state Supreme Court, which heard arguments last week on striking down the retirement age.

"We haven’t heard from what they thought, and I guess the word is they don’t think they should be deciding for themselves, but I’m just wondering, is this something we should be doing at this point," he said.

A Senate proposal would get rid of the mandatory retirement age for judges completely.