Wyoming voters to decide ballot measure increasing judicial retirement age to 75

Wyoming voters will decide in November on a constitutional amendment that would increase the judicial retirement age from 70 to 75 for state supreme court justices and district court judges.

As of 2022, 32 states have mandatory retirement ages for state judges. Including Wyoming, 18 states have a mandatory retirement age of 70. Seven have a mandatory retirement age of 75. In 2003, Vermont established the highest mandatory retirement age at 90 years old. The other 18 states do not have mandatory retirement ages.

Since 2016, voters in six states have voted on constitutional amendments to increase or eliminate the judicial retirement age. Two of the constitutional amendments were approved. Both of them, like the Wyoming amendment, proposed increasing the judicial retirement age from 70 to 75. The other four were rejected. Two proposed increasing the age from 70 to 80 and two proposed eliminating the judicial retirement age.

In Wyoming, a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote in each chamber of the Wyoming State Legislature during one legislative session. The judicial retirement age amendment was introduced into the state Legislature as House Joint Resolution 1 (HJ 1). The Wyoming House of Representatives voted 54 to 5 to approve HJ1 on Feb. 24, 2022. All seven Democratic representatives voted in favor. Of the 51 Republican representatives, 45 voted in favor, five voted against, and one was absent. The one Independent representative and one Libertarian representative both voted in favor. The State Senate passed the measure in a vote of 20-30 on March 3, 2022. Both Democratic senators voted in favor. Among the 28 Republican senators, 18 voted in favor and 10 voted against.

As of March 3, the Wyoming State Legislature has referred one other constitutional amendment – Amendment A – the ballot. Amendment A would allow the legislature to provide by law for local governments (county, city, township, town, school district, or other political subdivision) to invest funds in stocks and equities. The legislature may refer additional measures to the ballot during the 2022 legislative session, which is set to run until March 11, 2022. Two constitutional amendments concerning the state budget have passed the state House of Representatives and would be placed on the ballot if approved by the state Senate. One of the amendments would require that earnings from the Permanent Fund are deposited into an earnings account and requires that investment losses are addressed. The other potential amendment would create a separate earnings fund for earnings from the school account of the permanent land fund, allow the legislature to distribute or invest the earnings fund, and require the legislature to provide a process for supplying school fund investment losses.

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