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 Vice President

The Role of Vice President in the United States
 
 
The Vice President is position within the executive branch of the United States government that is behind the President in the presidential line of succession. The position was created based on Article 1 Section 3 on the United States Constitution which also gives the Vice President his power.
The Vice President has the main job to assume the Presidency if the for some reason the President cannot successfully act as president, for example, due to death, temporary incapacitation, or resignation. If both the Vice President and the Cabinet judge feel that the President is not fit for his duties, the he can take over the position. So far, only nine Vice Presidents have succeeded to the Presidency.
The Vice President is also the President of the United States Senate. In the case that a tie occurs during a vote in Senate, he has the power to cast a tie-breaking vote. Aside from this, the Vice President usually has a junior member of the majority party preside over the Senate.
According to the 12th Amendment and Section 3 of the 14th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution,the Vice President must be born in the United States, be a resident for at least 14 years, and be at least 35 years old. Furthermore, the individual can be disqualified by rebelling against the United States after swearing an oath to support the U.S. Constitution.
The Vice President is elected to a four year term through the Electoral College voting in the same way the President gets elected. Each member of the Electoral College has one vote for the position. Prior to the 12th amendment, the Vice President would be the individual who received the second largest amount of votes. Unlike the President, the he is not limited to only two elected terms, but rather there is no limitation.
The Vice President’s office is located in the West Wing of the White House along with one within the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Like the President and previous Vice Presidents since 1974, he also has an official residence, at the U.S. Naval Observatory.
Currently, Joseph R. Biden is in office as the 47th Vice President of the U.S. under the Obama administration. As Vice President, he has helped President Obama by being very critical of different positions, and looking at issues from many different angles.

Change is coming: EPA Plans Rules on Clean Gas

Change is coming: EPA Plans Rules on Clean Gas

 

 
The Obama administration is moving ahead with a plan to require cleaner gasoline as a means to reduce smog and traces of sulfur in gasoline. 
 
The rules are set to take effect in 2017, and their impact would not be realized until a decade later, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A study released by the Environmental Protection agency stated the new rule has the potential to save 2,000 lives a year and significantly reduce the likelihood of childhood asthma. 
 
“We estimate the rule to reduce smog by 30 percent”, said Bill Becker the director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, which represents several air quality control agencies throughout the world. 
 
A significant point of contention is how significantly the harsher rules would add to the price of gasoline. Oil and Refinery industry experts have postulated that such a move would require motorists to pay nearly 10 cents more per gallon of gasoline; however, the White House claims the move would add less than a penny per gallon, based on studies released by the Environmental Protection Agency. 
 
Representatives of the energy industry disagree with the government’s estimates. “There is a boatload of federal regulations coming from the EPA that could put upward pressure on gas prices,” said Bob Greco, a managing director at the American Petroleum Institute. 
 
The new rule targets sulfur, which is naturally present in crude oil. The more sulfur present in gasoline, the less efficiently an automobile runs. The new rules would force refineries to reduce sulfur content by nearly 60 percent to 10 parts per million from 30 parts per million, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
 
The United States Federal Government estimates the rule change to have the same effect as taking 33 million automobiles off the road. 
 
Refineries serving the European Union, Japan and California are already required to meet these stricter rules. 
 
The Sierra Club praised the plan as executive director Michal Brune proclaimed the rules to be an excellent use of current technology to “clean up our cars and fuel sources. “
 
The rules were developed with advice from car manufacturers, refiners and state officials, according to the Obama administration. 
 
Of the 111 refineries covered by the new rule, only 16 will need to purchase new equipment to meet the associated regulations. 
 
“Today’s proposed standards are the next step to protect public health; these rules will provide the automotive industry with the certainty they require to offer the same car models throughout the United States,” said EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe.  
 
Source: whitehouse.gov
 
 

The Dominoes Keep Falling: Senator Bob Casey Supports Gay Marriage

The Dominoes Keep Falling: Senator Bob Casey Supports Gay Marriage

 

 
Democratic Senator Bob Casey announced his support for gay marriage today.
The announcement marks Casey as one of the last Democrats to embrace marriage equality over the past few weeks. 
 
“After much deliberation, thought and after reviewing the civil rights, legal issues and public policy questions presented, I would like to announce that I support same-sex marriage and believe that the Defense of Marriage Act should be repealed,” Casey offered in an exclusive interview with the Philadelphia Gay News. 
 
“I started to focus on the issue of gay marriage much more than I had before,” he added, reflecting on the U.S. Supreme Court’s review of landmark marriage cases on the Federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8. 
 
Senator Casey previously supported civil unions but stopped short of offering his support for gay marriage or the repeal of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act. Casey’s office told various media outlets last week that the senator was “closely monitoring the debate undertaken by the United States Supreme Court,” but had not changed his position on the matter. 
 
A coalition of progressive organizations in Pennsylvania intensified the pressure on Casey by attacking his refusal to come around at a time when Democrats from conservative states were flipping on the issue. 
 
Casey claimed the feedback from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community and their families gave him the momentum and final push he needed to support their cause. “These stories had a tremendous impact on my position; if two individuals of the same sex fall in love and wish to marry, why should our government get in their way? At a time when a large percentage of Americans lament a lack of commitment between married women and men, why would we want less commitment and weaker marriages? If two individuals of the same sex wish to raise children, why should our government impede them from doing so, especially when so many children in this nation have only one parent or none at all?”
 
Casey, in a wide margin, was reelected to a second six-year term during the 2012 election. 
 
Although gay marriage does not enjoy overwhelming support in the state of Pennsylvania, more residents are in favor (47 percent) of the formation than opposed (43 percent). 
 
Source: whitehouse.gov

Victory in Delaware: Marriage Equality Comes to the First State

Victory in Delaware: Marriage Equality Comes to the First State

 

 
Marriage equality is on the verge of becoming the law of the land in the state of Delaware, as the Delaware Senate just passed the landmark legislation by a vote of 12 to 9. 
 
A half hour after the Senate vote, Governor Jack Markell signed the legislation into formal law on the steps in the lobby of the state’s Legislative Hall. 
 
Today’s historic victory for the gay and lesbian community follows a remarkable undertaken led by a number of gay advocacy groups in the nation’s first state. Thousands of Delaware residents volunteered, participated in phone backs, canvassed communities, and contacted their legislators to secure the momentum this bill required to become a reality. Delaware state officials including Governor Jack Markell, Attorney General Beau Biden and Rep. Melanie Smith advocated for the bill. 
Delaware officially becomes the 11th state in the U.S. to permit gay marriage. Republican Senator Catherine Cloutier and Democratic Senator Bethany Long provided the key swing votes in favor of the gay marriage legislation. Cloutier was the only Republican to vote “yes” in the Senate and one of two in the entire General Assembly to approve the bill.
 
According to the prospective law, residents of Delaware will be permitted to enter into same-sex marriages starting on the 1st of July. The law will provide a mechanism for converting existing same-sex civil unions in the state to full-fledged marriages. 
“I strongly believe that this is the right thing for the state of Delaware,” Markell said following the vote. 
 
The same-sex marriage bill was originally introduced in the Democrat-controlled Legislature last month, just a year after the state began recognizing same-sex civil unions. Supporters for the bill argued that same-sex couples deserve the same rights and respect of married couples. Supporters also noted that if the Supreme Court of the United States strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits married gay couples from procuring federal benefits, civil unions would not offer tax benefits or protections under federal law to same-sex couples in the state of Delaware. 
 
According to the bill, no new civil unions will be created in the state of Delaware after the 1st of July, and existing civil unions will be converted into traditional marriage over the next year. The new law also states that civil unions established in other states will be treated the same as marriages under the new statute.  
 
Source: Human Rights Campaign 

Gay Marriage Passes in Minnesota House Today

Gay Marriage Passes in Minnesota House Today

 

A crucial vote today in the Minnesota House positioned the state to become the 12th in the United States to permit gay marriages and the first in the Midwest to pass such a law. 
 
The 75 to 59 vote was viewed as the first pivotal step for the bill to become a law; the law would permit same-sex couples to marry beginning August 1st. The vote represents a starting shift in the state, where just six months prior voters surprisingly rejected an effort to ban same-sex marriages in the state’s constitution. 
The Minnesota Senate is expected to consider the bill on Monday, and leaders anticipate that the measure will pass. Governor Mark Dayton has pledged to sign the bill into law if it passes. 
 
Hundreds of people on both sides of the debate rallied Thursday at the state Capitol, which was under tighter than the usual security. Pro-marriage supporters lined the hallways outside the House Chambers. Many of these individuals were dressed in orange and held signs that read< “I support the freedom to marry.” Behind these supporters were opponents who held up their own signs, reading simply “Vote No.”
Eleven other states in the U.S. currently permit gay marriage, including Delaware and Rhode Island, which approve the measure in the past 6 days. If the bill passes, Minnesota would be the first state in the Midwest to permit gay marriages out of its legislature. 
 
Iowa; however, permits gay marriages because of a 2009 court ruling, and leaders in Illinois claims that the state is very close to having the votes needed to approve gay marriages. That said, the majority of other states surrounding Minnesota implement constitutional bans against same-sex marriages, so the shift in support may not spread the country’s heartland nearly as quickly as it has to the liberal areas, particularly the coast lines and New England. 
 
The push for gay marriage in Minnesota grew out of last fall’s successful campaign to strike down a constitutional amendment that would have prohibited it. Minnesota thus became the first to turn back such an amendment after 26 states had passed one. 
This same election put Democrats in control of the state government for the first time in more than 20 years, which is a perfect scenario for gay marriage supporters to quickly pursue legalization. 
 
 
Source: Human Rights Campaign

Gay Marriage Gaining Momentum in Nevada

Gay Marriage Gaining Momentum in Nevada

 

 
A Nevada Assembly Committee underwent a testimony on the Senate Joint Resolution 13 yesterday when many of those who previously testified earlier this year maintained their opposition or support for the measure that would effectively repeal the state’s constitutional ban against same-sex marriages. 
 
That said, there were some new opinions offered at the testimony, including Assemblywoman Michele Fiore who announced her support for gay marriage. 
“My mother is gay,” said Fiore. “My two daughters and I are straight. My mother is a democrat. My two daughters and I are both staunch Republicans. I am the person I am today, because of the upbringing and guidance of my mother who is a gay woman.”
Senators Pat Spearman, Tick Segerblom and David Parks, all democrats out of sin city, introduced the resolution to the Committee on Legislative Operations and General Elections. 
 
James Ohrenschall, the committee chairman, allowed those who opposed gay marriage to testify first. Mr. Ohrenschall wanted to ensure that everyone offering an opinion had an equal opportunity to have their voices heard. With more than 50 individuals signed in to testify, speakers were given two minutes to make their case for or against gay marriage in Nevada. 
 
Those who opposed gay marriage spoke of their concern that the law would infringe on their own religious viewpoints and freedoms, These individuals stated that they did not believe the proposed amendment, which would permit religious institutions to exercise their right to not marry gay men or lesbian women, was insufficient. 
 
“This is a significant constitutional amendment as no other state in the U.S. has actually placed it in their constitution; the proposal does far more than simply repealing gay marriage,” said a spokesperson for the Nevada Eagle Forum. 
 
Riley Roberts, a local high school student and the son of lesbian parents, was one of the young residents of Nevada who testified in support of the gay marriage initiative. Roberts became highly emotional as he described how his parents were no different than straight couples and therefore should be awarded the same rights as heterosexual marriage couples. 
 
“I was born in this state 18 years ago and guess who was there? My mother Gretchen Miller and Pamela Roberts, my loving parents,” Roberts said. “My mothers were also there to watch me take my first steps.”
 
The committee wrapped up after three hours of testimony on proposition 13; no action was taken, but it will be brought to committee again for an expected resolution sometime in the near future. 
 
 
Source: Human Rights Campaign

Obamacare: Variables that will Affect Your Cost

Obamacare: Variables that will Affect Your Cost

 

Understanding the variables and how they will impact your health insurance coverage under Obamacare is crucial to limit your costs. The following breakdown is only for those consumers who purchase plans on the individual market through exchanges; this information does not apply to individuals with employer-sponsored health plans.

Income: One of the primary factors determining how much you will pay next year is your income. This is because subsidies are available to consumers with incomes of up to 400 percent of the poverty line or roughly $45,000 for an individual and $92,000 for a family of four. Roughly 57 percent of enrollees will receive subsidies, and those subsidies will cover roughly two-thirds of the premium according to the Congressional Budget Office. 

Age: The Elderly will typically see their premiums decrease, because they will be placed into a risk pool with the younger (or healthier) generations. Moreover, Obamacare imposes limits on the amounts insurers can charge older enrollees to three times the amount charged for younger buyers. It is now commonplace to see the elderly charged five times more than younger buyers. 

Gender: Currently an insurance company can charge premiums based on gender. Males typically pay less than woman, since they typically visit the doctor less frequently. Under the new Affordable Care Act; however, insurers are not allowed to charge different rates to women and men. 

As a result of this information, it can be assumed that younger males (between the ages of 25 and 36) will see their rate increase by as much as 50 percent; however, women of the same age will only experience a premium increase of around 5 percent. 

Amount of Coverage: Uninsured individuals will of course see their payments rise because they currently do not pay for insurance. Moreover, those individuals with catastrophic coverage or high-deductible plans will most likely see their premiums increase. 

State of Residence: Some states in the U.S> currently require some of the same protections as those provided by the Affordable Care Act, which increases costs of individual market plans for residents today. These areas include Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont. Premiums may drop in these states because younger and healthier people are likely to enter the market. 

That being said, insurers—and seemingly everyone else—are just guessing as to what premiums should be. 

Source: whitehouse.gov

 

Brazil Paves the Way for Marriage Equality

Brazil Paves the Way for Marriage Equality

 

 
A top judicial panel paved the way for same-sex marriage in Brazil today, ruling that homosexual couples could not be denied form applying for and subsequently receiving marriage licenses. 
 
The National Council of Justice, which is responsible for overseeing the Brazilian judicial system and is led by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, announced that government offices that issue marriage licenses did not possess the right to reject gay couples. 
 
“This is the equivalent of permitting homosexual marriage in the nation of Brazil,” said Raquel Pereira de Castro Araujo, the lead executive of the human rights committee of the Brazilian bar association. 
 
The Brazilian Congress, which is home to a strong religious faction that vehemently opposes same sex marriage, has yet to approve a law permitting gay marriage. Moreover, the council’s rulings are subject to appeal before the nation’s Supreme Court.
 
That said, Supreme Court Justice Joaquim Barbosa claimed no reason for the government’s marriage licensing offices to sit back and wait for the nation’s Congress to pass a law permitting same-sex marriage before lengthening the right to the homosexual population. 
 
Mr. Barbosa noted that the Brazilian Supreme Court in 2011 recognized stable homosexual unions, ruling that the nation’s constitution guaranteed them the same rights as straight couples. 
 
“Do we need to require the approval of a new law by the Congress to bolster a decision that was already upheld by the Supreme Court? It does not make any sense,” he said in a slew of comments quoted by the G1 news website. 
 
The Brazilian Supreme Court’s decision “is binding” and should be followed by the lower court system, he claimed. 
 
A few offices have granted marriage licenses to homosexual couples while others have not. While some state courts have recognized same-sex marriages, the council’s ruling was the first to establish a national standard. “Because the Congress is so slow and does not decide, the judicial branch took the reins,” said Luiz Kignet, a family lawyer in Sao Paulo. “The law is required, the judicial branch is not suppressing the obligation to create a law,” he said. 
 
However, the law is saying that same-sex marriage is constitutional, and the council’s decision should accelerate the passing of a law to permit homosexual marriage. 
In theory, the council’s ruling may be challenged by the Supreme Court, but it is unlikely to, claims Kignet, saying it had reached the proverbial of point of no return. 
 
 
Source: Human Rights Campaign

Syracuse, Princeton Universities Expand Employee Health Plans to Cover Transition-Related Expenses

Syracuse, Princeton Universities Expand Employee Health Plans to Cover Transition-Related Expenses

 

Syracuse and Princeton have joined a growing list of universities in the United States that cover transition-related medical costs for transgender faculty and staff under their health insurance policies. 

Effective July 1, Princeton University’s employee health plan will provide coverage for all forms of gender reassignment surgeries and operations. Many officials and the school’s newspaper have reported that talks of a similar change to the student health care plan are still ongoing. 

A comparable expansion of transition-related coverage for transgender faculty and staff was implemented at Syracuse University late last month. According to the Transgender Policy and Law Institute, roughly 19 universities or colleges in the United States provide some level of transition-related medical coverage for employees, with a more expansive list providing coverage for gender reassignment surgeries and/or hormones as provided by their student healthcare plans. 

These inclusive alterations at universities and colleges throughout the United States mirror the progress in corporate America. In the 2013 Corporate Equality Index, a record 287 prominent companies reported coverage for transgender-inclusive health plans. 

In 2009, the Human Rights Campaign announced that earning a score of 100 percent on the Corporate Equality Index would require employers to provide at least one firm-wide available health plan that provides coverage for medically necessary transition-related assistance or care. Partnered with consultative and intensive educational efforts, these criteria led to a five-fold increase from 2009 to 2012 in the number of prominent U.S. employers providing transgender-inclusive health coverage. 

Source: Human Rights Campaign

New Polls Show Growing Momentum for Gay Marriage in Virginia, Michigan and Arizona

New Polls Show Growing Momentum for Gay Marriage in Virginia, Michigan and Arizona

 

 
Newly released polls from Virginia, Michigan and Arizona reveal that the majority of voters in these states support marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. 
A poll released in Michigan found that voters support gay and lesbian marriage at a rate of nearly 57 percent, which is up 12.5 percentage points from last year’s poll results. The Detroit News and other Michigan media outlets report that the majority of this movement was sparked by shifting opinions from independents and Republicans. 
 
“I don’t think I have ever witnessed a policy question move as quickly as this one,” said Richard Czuba, president of the Glengariff Group, which was responsible for conducting the poll in Michigan. These results come as partisans eagerly await a United States Supreme Court decision on two cases related to gay marriage. 
In addition to the results showing support for gay marriage rights, the poll also found that over 90 percent of Michigan voters favor some legal protections for gay and lesbian couples. Moreover, the poll revealed that at least 65 percent of voters favor changes to laws allowing for civil unions, adoption rights, inheritance, hate crime protections, and domestic benefits. 
 
A poll just released by the Washington Post found that 56 percent of registered voters in the state of Virginia believe that gay and lesbian marriage should be made legal for same-sex couples. This 10 percentage point increase in support from polling also marks a steep reversal in opinion from 2006, when voters amended the state constitution to express marriage as an act that only takes place between one woman and one man. 
 
Lastly, in conservative Arizona, a new poll conducted by the Behavior Research Center found that 55 percent of Arizona residents favor extending marriage rights to gay and lesbian partners. 
 
These polls reflect the sea of change in public support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality that continues to gain momentum throughout the county. 
 
 
Source: Human Rights Campaign