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Letters to the Editor


April 22, 2020 | View PDF

Richland County Needs Joel’s Representation In Helena

Dear Editor,

Montanans are facing trying times, and COVID-19 isn’t giving our eastern communities a pass. Whether you’re an employer struggling to pencil out the coming months, or an employee who’s been laid off and facing an uncertain future – the pandemic is impacting everyone.

This crisis is justifiably front and center today, but we need to start thinking about how we rebuild our economy when the threat has passed. Elections are coming up, and when your ballot reaches your doorstep it’s important to carefully consider which candidates will most effectively lead our state through the recovery. Who will be chosen to lead Montana in the 2021 Legislature? Who will represent Sidney and Eastern Montana with pragmatic solutions?

Representative Joel Krautter is doing right by our community. He has consistently stood up for job creation, free enterprise, and economic development since joining the legislature in 2019. Look no further than his score of 93% in the Montana Chamber of Commerce’s voting review for the 2019 session – Joel prioritizes small business issues and delivers economic prosperity to Eastern Montana.

Then again, one can look further – his record on our core rural values. Scoring 109% with the Montana Farm Bureau, Joel was named the organization’s “Rookie of the Year”, an award bestowed upon a freshman legislator who went “above and beyond in learning the legislative process and doing his best to serve agriculture in rural Montana.” He carried and passed priority legislation for the agriculture community in HB 50, providing protection and accountability to the state’s farmers by giving the Department of Agriculture the ability to enforce agricultural commodity laws.

Joel’s overall record indicates that he will continue to prioritize critical-need infrastructure investment and workforce development, all the while keeping taxes low and rejecting unnecessary regulation. Extending Joel’s tenure in the legislature will also net additional influence for the Sidney area – he served on three standing committees in 2019, including a seat on the influential House Business & Labor Committee.

Joel is willing to get creative in a legislative process that too often encourages the opposite. He heard area employers’ concerns about retaining workers, so he acted last session by proposing a unique grant program that would have enticed working professionals to relocate, build careers, and generate economic activity in rural counties. Montana needs more out-of-the-box thinking like this to remain competitive with neighboring states.

Having the right people, for the right office, at the right time is essential to convert good ideas into tangible economic growth. As a business owner, I embrace this reality and urge other employers and employees to make their voices heard in the election process.

A rookie no longer, we need Joel’s leadership in Helena now more than ever – leadership that will work relentlessly to achieve economic recovery and prosperity. Joel Krautter has demonstrated the political courage to prioritize constituents over caucus, and you can expect him to put Sidney and the surrounding area first when we send him back to the legislature in 2021.

- Tami Christensen

Dear Editor,

There has been a lot of talk about Medicaid Expansion (Obamacare). Here is some of what I know. One of the first things I look at when I see a bill is the Fiscal Note. This bill had a fiscal note of about $1.4 Billion for the biennium, which would cause one of the largest spending increases ever in the state of Montana. To put it in perspective, that would be approximately $1,400 for every man, woman and child, or $5,600 for a family of four. That is a lot of money for each family to be responsible for to give insurance to able bodied people, ages 18-64. 90% of the $1.4 Billion comes from the Federal taxpayers, you and me. 10%, which is $140 million, comes from the state taxpayers, again, you and me. That is unless the Feds change the rules and decide to pay less which would make the state pay more. In order to get the state’s $140 Million, the bill sponsors had to decide who to steal it from. There were lots of ideas because there is never a bad tax when it comes to liberals: cigarettes, workman’s comp, private health insurance and many others. One of the big ideas was to raise the bed tax on sick people in the hospitals. The hospital bed tax was raised to $70 per day. So, the next time you, or one of your family, are in the hospital remember that part of your bill is a tax so able-bodied Montanans can have free health insurance.

On the subject of abortion, we should remember this is Obamacare. How prolife was Obama? Thirty-four states administer their Medicaid Expansion program consistent with the Hyde Amendment, which prevents most abortions. Fifteen states have a policy that directs their Medicaid Expansion programs to pay for most abortions. Montana is one of the fifteen. This was mentioned a few times in the Medicaid Expansion debate in the Montana State Legislature. So, the idea that some legislators didn’t know anything about the abortion coverage is a little farfetched. In addition to that, Medicaid Expansion pays for “sex change” surgeries.

In November 2018, two-thirds of Richland County voted against Medicaid Expansion (Obamacare), I-185, because they didn’t want to pay for able-bodied people to get something for nothing. As your Senator, I was proud to vote with the people from Richland County. The trouble is there weren’t enough people that voted like the majority of Richland County voters. So, we have Medicaid Expansion.

The other thing that I look for in a bill is who is for it, and who is against it. Some of the groups that were for it, and spent a lot of money promoting I-185, were the hospitals (who claim to be non-profit businesses), Planned Parenthood (a big abortion provider in Montana), the ACLU (a bunch of liberal lawyer activists), health insurance companies, unions, and many more liberal organizations. When most of these groups are for something it is a big red flag to me.

The biggest problem I have with Medicaid Expansion is that it is Socialism. It takes from people who have and gives it to people who don’t make an attempt to have. In most of the debates about Obamacare, Medicaid Expansion, or any other government paid healthcare, the sentiment is “we owe it to them”.

If somebody will vote for a big give away program like Medicaid Expansion, they will probably vote for anything to take your money away and give it to someone else. That isn’t what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they sacrificed to start this country. Vote smart during this primary season.

I look forward to hearing from you regarding your questions or concerns. You can contact me by phone 406-365-79767, cell 406-989-1372, or by e-mail [email protected]

- Rep. Steve Hinebauch

Dear Editor:

I’m the chairwoman of the Richland County Central Committee. Although this letter represents my own views and officially speaks for me only, I feel it is my imperative personal duty to inform Richland County voters that our election process is being undermined by the Richland County Democratic Central Committee. Our Republic requires candidates for public office act with integrity in honestly advertising themselves and their policy positions to voters. Without that honesty, our election process is undermined. It is my opinion that the Democratic Party leadership both locally and in Montana is intentionally trying to influence our Republican primary.

Is it possible that a Democrat would run for office in Richland County on the Republican ticket because he knew it was the only way to get elected here? That’s exactly what Montana Republican leadership and Joel Krautter’s conservative colleagues are warning us about. His crossover votes with the Democratic caucus in the Montana House, his attacks on pro-life groups as “extremists,” his refusal to answer hard questions about gun-rights, and the disdain that Republican leaders have for him all speak to the core of his convictions.

But most astoundingly, in the last edition of the Roundup newspaper, members of the Richland County Democratic Central Committee wrote into the paper in what appears a coordinated way to support Krautter’s candidacy on the Republican ticket! Not one, but two Democrat officials vouched that Krautter was a good Republican. Although one admitted to being a Democrat in her letter, neither advertised that they were Democrat officials in the local party leadership. A third Krautter supporter, who spoke up against declaring the sanctity of life in Richland County during a January 20 meeting, also endorsed him in the paper.

Why are Democrats like this endorsing a Republican primary candidate? Accusations from Krautter’s colleagues abound that he is not a Republican in his conscience. He has an F-rating in party loyalty from Legistats. He has more Republican colleagues opposing him actively than perhaps any Republican incumbent in state history. They’re doing so on the grounds that his party identification is fraudulent.

Why is it that Democrats aren’t running a candidate in the Democratic primary? The answer is that they’re running one in the Republican primary.”

Will Republican voters in Richland County have our primary process undermined by the Democratic Party? Will we allow them to sway our election? Republicans need to show up in droves and make sure that our election process will not be compromised by someone running dishonestly on the wrong ticket.

- Tanya Rost, Sidney, MT

Dear Editor:

I saw a disturbing hand out by Representative Krautter last week. It was my honor to have been elected as a Majority Whip in 2019, when every candidate for Leadership ran on supporting conservative policies. Yet now when trying to set the record straight on Mr. Krautter, the folks elected according to him are extremists?

I still have yet to see any conservative use the language of the left to describe their fellow members, especially when defending the votes regarding Medicaid Expansion. I believe I am correct when I recall that close to 70% of HD 35 voted against I-185, and sent a clear message to the Legislature prior to that session. The record also definitively shows that not only did Rep, Krautter vote for Buttreycare, he also voted against every one of the 10 amendments conservative leaders tried to introduce on the floor to fix it’s failures (HB 658 3/29/19).

It is this failure that I found to be the most egregious use of his many liberal votes cast for you, the conservatives in HD35. In fact, Mr. Krautter often wore a lapel pin during those struggles depicting a capital “F”, and when I asked him what it represented, he proudly said his score on Legistats. It is inconceivable that the same folks who sent my friend Mr. David Halvorson, may God rest his soul, could then be fooled into voting for this conservative imposter. Please help us continue to fight for your values and vote FOR Brandon Ler.

- Derek Skees, Republican Legislator HD 11

Dear Editor:

I am Representative Mark Noland, HD10 in Bigfork. I was Chairman of the House Business and Labor committee of which Rep. Joel Krautter was a member. Also, I was Joel’s seatmate on the House floor. I had many conversations with Joel and believe the voters of House District 35 deserve to know the real Joel Krautter, not the campaign Joel Krautter. 

From the first day of the legislative session, I encouraged him to vote with Republican ideals as he had campaigned. He told me he would vote the way he felt was right. I encouraged him to seek advice from trusted conservative sources only to fall on deaf ears. If you look at his voting record you will see that he voted against the Republican Party over 30% of the time. When a tax relief bill came up for a vote and he voted against it, I told him, “This is a good Republican bill and you are voting against your own party”, he said “It’s what my constituents want”. I told Joel that if he kept voting with the Democrats it would be hard to get re-elected.

Joel continually voted to grow government, not to shrink it. One of many examples is HB 694 that increased fees/taxes on investment advisors, shifting millions from the private sector to Helena. Joel Krautter has lost my respect and the respect of many of his Republican peers in Helena.

Voters of HD 35, election time is here. You have a chance to send Joel back to Helena as a “Republican” to vote with the Democratic party (as per his voting record) or you can send Brandon Ler who is well respected by his community and who I have full faith will be respected by legislators statewide. 

- Rep. Mark Noland HD10

Dear Editor:

Joel Krauter complains about being "forced" by Majority Leader Brad Tschida to be a "party pawn" to vote against his (Krauter’s) better judgement. Krauter paints Brad as a “demanding Party Boss”.

I had the displeasure of being on the Business and Labor committee with Joel Krauter. How many times did we sit in Executive Action and explain to Krauter that we needed his vote to move a conservative bill in committee to the floor, just to have him vote totally the opposite. Krauter could not be count on except to abandon us when we (Republicans) needed him most.

Define leadership Joel…. You don’t know how to vote with, or back your own party or committee members when most needed. If you are leadership material, show me where you worked with your party to deserve such recognition……. Still waiting Joel.

Voting in committee with the Democrats to kill good bills or voting for bad bills with the Democrats was his "solution”. Krauter WAS a leader and well respected by the Democrats for his voting record, in and out of committee.

I truly thought Richland County had sent a Republican to join us and to represent them. Sadly, they didn’t; his voting record proves it. Krauter would best benefit the Republican Party by running as a Democrat. Rather than re-elect a RINO, Richland County would do much better sending a true conservative voice….. Brandon Ler.

Brandon, you will be a welcome addition to the House and the Business and Labor standing committee.

- Representative Steve Gunderson HD1

Local Government – VC

Business and Labor

Natural Resources

Dear Editor:

There is nothing quite as important as our next generation, wouldn’t you agree? This includes those babies born and yet to be born. That is why I started the Montana Pro-Life Coalition in 2008 and more recently Doctors for a Healthy Montana, a Pro-Life political group. Today, I write to you as a physician-citizen representing myself and these two organizations I founded. I was voted best family physician in the Flathead 2012 and 2019 and am a member of the Montana Medical Association Legislative Committee, Council Member of the American College of Physicians MT Chapter, member of the Flathead County Board of Health.

We, at Doctors for a Healthy Montana, were disappointed to have watched Rep. Joel Krautter vote for Medicaid Expansion. This program uses tax dollars to pay for abortions (See doctorsforahealthymontana. com for a detailed explanation). Rep. Krautter has stated multiple times that Medicaid Expansion does not change any services from traditional Medicaid and he is absolutely right. Medicaid pays for abortions and Medicaid Expansion, that Rep. Krautter voted for, also pays for abortions. That is why Planned Parenthood in Billings donated a monstrous $176,994.07 to try and pass the referendum on the 2018 ballot. 

Recently Rep. Krautter filed a complaint to Commissioner of Political Practices about our name in an effort to quiet the conversation about his resume.

We are a Pro-Life, Pro-Child group that understands there are other opinions but believe the voter has the right to know how their Representative voted, and the intended or unintended consequences of that vote. It is disheartening to see a proclaimed pro-life legislator try to belittle a Pro-Life messenger instead of explaining to his constituents the reality of his voting record. 

- Dr. Annie Bukacek, physician in Kalispell, MT

Dear Editor:

We are writing to show our support for Joel Krautter in his re-election campaign to the Montana House of Representatives. 

We served with Representative Krautter this past term, voted on legislation Krautter presented and quickly noticed he was one of eastern Montana’s hardest working legislators. A legislator’s first-term is often a steep learning curve, but Joel jumped right in and with his legal background didn’t waste time getting to work. Joel stood solidly with eastern Montanans in support of oil, gas and coal jobs and he was an outstanding leader for agriculture.

We are all Republicans and we are all disappointed to see the false and meritless attacks on Representative Krautter. Unfortunately we’ve all learned during our time in public service that no one can keep everyone happy because hard decisions have to be made.

Joel consistently put the people of his district ahead of playing politics in Helena and he delivered results. This is the approach we need more of in Montana politics today to find lasting solutions.


Senator Duane Ankney, (R-Colstrip)

Representative Geraldine Custer (R-Forsyth)

Representative Ken Holmlund (R-Miles City)


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