State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

The State House Sound Bites Podcast is now called State of the State and is a part of PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization to hold Pennsylvania’s government accountable to its citizens.

Ballot question, under construction

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Apr 6, 2016 7:08 PM

Plans are changing for a voter referendum that asks if the state's mandatory judicial retirement age should change from 70 to 75 years old.

After a court battle over the phrasing of the referendum, state lawmakers are yanking it from the April 26 primary ballot and pushing it off until the November general. That will give the state time to re-advertise the newer version of the question. It was written by state elections officials, but Senate Republicans called their rendering clunky.

Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery) sponsored the original proposal to amend the constitution to change the judicial retirement mandate. She said she agrees that the administration's version of the referendum was confusing.

"I had actually written to the State Department myself saying, look, what are you doing? Just ask it this way," said Harper.

The House has approved postponing the ballot question. The Senate must still weigh in.

Lawmakers' version of the question asks if justices and judges should retire at the age of 75. It does not mention that the state already gives them the boot after they hit 70.

The voter referendum is the last step for proposed constitutional amendments, which must be passed in two consecutive legislative sessions.

Published in State House Sound Bites

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