By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Pennsylvania is one step closer to an amendment to the state constitution that would allow judges to serve five more years before reaching mandatory retirement age.

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The state House recently passed legislation to increase the mandatory retirement age for judges to age 75 and if the Senate also goes along soon, it could be on the November ballot for voters to decide. Montgomery County Republican Kate Harper, sponsor of the legislation, says the current mandatory retirement age of 70 was set in 1968, when life expectancy was shorter.

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“We had medical testimony from a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians who testified under oath at a hearing that the mental decline between the age of 70 and 75 – unless you have some problem – is barely perceptible,” said Harper.

And if there is an issue, Harper says the Judicial Conduct Board can address it. Right now, she says Pennsylvania is losing out on the rich experience of older judges.

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Ronald Castille recently had to step down as Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.