State House panel OKs plan to raise retirement age for judges

State Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery) aims to raise the mandatory retirement age for state judges from 70 to 75.
State Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery) aims to raise the mandatory retirement age for state judges from 70 to 75. | Courtesy of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives

The state House Judiciary Committee approved a proposal on Tuesday to increase the mandatory retirement age of a Pennsylvania judge from 70 to 75.

The primary sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery) said forcing a judge to retire at a certain age can hurt the justice system because “we lose that judge's knowledge and experience on the bench.”

“I believe it is in the best interest of the commonwealth to give capable judges the option to continue their service, and my legislation will ultimately put that question to the voters,” Harper said.

House Bill 90 will ask voters to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to increase the retirement age for all state judges. Constitutional amendments in Pennsylvania must be passed by the General Assembly in two consecutive sessions before they can be place on the ballot.

Both the House and the Senate passed the proposal in 2013, and if lawmakers pass it again during this legislative session, it will be placed on the ballot.

Harper said the current retirement age was put in place in Pennsylvania in 1968, but noted that since then, the average life expectancy has increased from 70 to 78.

Currently, 33 states and the District of Columbia require mandatory retirement for judges between the ages of 70 and 75. Most of the remaining states, including Pennsylvania, are looking at altering their laws.

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Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus Harrisburg, PA

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