The Texas State Legislature voted to send a constitutional amendment to the Nov. ballot that would increase the mandatory retirement age for state judges and justices from 75 to 79—the second-highest retirement age in the country, excluding those with no mandatory retirement ages. Vermont adopted in 2003 the highest retirement age for state judges at 90.
Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have set mandatory retirement ages ranging from 70 to 90 years of age. Texas is one of eight states with a mandatory retirement age of 75.
The Texas amendment is the second ballot measure to be certified for a future election date that would change a mandatory retirement age. In March, the New Hampshire State Legislature voted to send an amendment to the November 2024 ballot that would increase the state’s mandatory retirement age from 70 to 75.
Texas adopted the mandatory retirement age in 1965 with the approval of Proposition 8 by a vote of 73% to 27%. The retirement age has been 75 years since its adoption. In 2007, Texans approved Proposition 14, which allowed judges elected to serve a six-year term but that reach 75 years of age during the first four years of service to serve until December 31 of the fourth year of the term. Proposition 14 was approved with 75% of the vote.
To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters, a two-thirds (66.67%) vote is required in both the Texas State Senate and the Texas House of Representatives.
This amendment was introduced as House Joint Resolution 107 on March 3, 2023. On April 26, the state House passed HJR 107 by a vote of 141-5 with four not voting. The state Senate passed HJR 107 on May 15 but the vote totals were not immediately available.
The Legislature has also voted to send two other amendments to the Nov. ballot related to issuing bonds for conservation districts in El Paso County and establishing a right to farming and ranching in the state constitution. As of May 15, the state legislature has taken at least one vote on 47 of the 297 constitutional amendments introduced in this session. Between 1985 and 2021, an average of 14 measures appeared on statewide ballots in odd-numbered years. The state legislature is set to adjourn on May 29.