Lawmakers OK bridge to link Minnesota, Wisconsin
The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved legislation for building a new St. Croix River bridge to connect Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The House voted 339-80 in favor of legislation that exempts the proposed $700 million bridge at Stillwater, Minn., from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Senate approved the legislation in January. It now heads to President Obama’s desk.
The vote caps approximately 30 years of squabbles and legislative maneuverings about the span that will link the states with a four-lane highway.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said in a statement that it represented good, bipartisan work.
“This legislation was a top federal priority for my administration and is a great example of bipartisanship teamwork that will create thousands of jobs,” Mr. Walker said. “The construction of this safer, better bridge will bring a welcome economic boost to the region.”
Thursday’s vote capped a frantic push to pass the legislation after Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton warned the bill’s House sponsor, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, that he would redirect state funding if a vote wasn’t held by March 15. The Senate passed the exemption unanimously in January. pursuing a lawsuit in their native Kansas about the ownership of a libertarian-leaning think tank based in Washington.
The Koch brothers also are longtime shareholders in the Cato Institute, a research organization that promotes free-market, small-government policies. Their lawsuit seeks a court ruling that would leave the institute with only one other shareholder, its president and chief executive officer, Ed Crane, who also is a defendant.
The lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in Johnson County District Court, centers on the 25 percent ownership interest in the Cato Institute previously held by William Niskanen, who retired as chairman in 2008 and died in October. The Koch brothers contend that under shareholders’ agreements in 1977 and 1985, his wife can’t retain the shares and control his ownership interest but must give the shares back to the institute.
“We support Cato and its work,” Charles Koch said in a statement. “We are not acting in a partisan manner . . . all we seek is adherence to the shareholders’ agreement.”