The Roundup -

Letters to the Editor


Dear Editor:

Let Environment Council Hear From You On Radioactive Waste

For six years citizens have worked with the Department of Environmental Quality to write rules setting safeguards for disposal of oilfield radioactive waste called TENORM.

Richland County Commissioner Duane Mitchell served on the stakeholder working group. He promoted standards consistent with surrounding states to prevent Montana from becoming a dumping ground for out-of-state radioactive waste.

Richland County Commissioner Shane Gorder and Civil Attorney Tom Halvorson testified in Helena for consistency with surrounding states and notice of radioactive spills to protect local EMTs, firefighters, and deputy sheriffs. The County Commission and Civil Attorney filed comments and participated in meetings.

There were many hearings, meetings, and legal procedures followed. DEQ received over 2,400 public comments. DEQ proposed a limit of 50 picocuries per gram consistent with science reports, North Dakota’s rule, the work group, and public comments.

At the last minute, by a vote of 10 to 6, the Environmental Quality Council objected to the proposed rules, talking about a deal some Council members say was negotiated to quadruple the limit to 200 pCi/gm. Their objection sidetracks the rules. If the Council continues its objection at its May 27-28, 2020 meeting, the sidetrack will become a derailment. Then hot-load radioactive waste that no neighboring state allows could be coming to any county in Montana. Montana already has six licensed TENORM disposal sites near Glendive, Outook, Culbertson, Missoula, Baker, and Great Falls.

The Environmental Quality Councils needs to live up to its name. For enough Council votes to change, they need to hear from you. Visit to learn how you can participate.


Duane Mitchell, Chairman

Shane Gorder, Commissioner

Loren H. Young, Commissioner

Tom Halvorson, Civil Attorney

Dear Editor,

There are a lot of letters bashing different candidates. I am going to tell you good things about a candidate.

My candidate has unquestionable character. What he says is what he believes. He gives to his fellowman. When a local man was fighting cancer, Matt came to town to help him in his butcher shop. He has opened his ranch to The Wounded Warrior Project and to the youth hunting program. Matt and Jean loaded their pickup with pumpkins and brought them to town so all the kids in their church would have a pumpkin to carve.

Matt’s character and leadership was recognized by his peers when he was elected as Senate Majority Leader. He has earned A ratings from several conservative organizations and has been endorsed by pro-business groups. Matt is unashamedly Pro-life!

As State Auditor and Insurance Commissioner, Matt decreased the budget in his office by 23%. He was the only state official to decline his pay raise. Under Matt’s leadership we now have more insurance options, including member health share options like Medi-Share.

These are just a few reasons why I am voting for Matt Rosendale for US Congress. I hope you will join me.

For Montana,

Beth Hinebauch

Dear Editor:

Joel Is No Domino

I support Joel Krautter for House District 35 Representative. Joel’s experience in the Legislature and involvement in the community makes him uniquely qualified to be our representative. His platform “Common Sense Conservative, Problem - Solving Leadership”, is appropriate now as it was in 2018 when he was first elected.

Joel has and will make thoughtful decisions based on a review of the facts and for the best interest of his constituents. He will not fall in lock step with the far right wing republicans. He is still a conservative, and I am too. But that doesn’t mean he is not supposed to think, and only vote the party line. What kind of a government do we have when that’s all we get when we elect someone? If that is the ultimate goal, then just elect a domino. One thing I know about Joel;-- that is he is not a domino.

Joel’s opponent Brandon Ler, has fallen prey to Conservatives United for Richland County and Legistats and their far right wing extremist views. Legistats is simply a nonthinking computer program, which only rates Republican legislators. Conservatives United, ran by Jordan Hall (see Jim Steinbeisser letter to editor), recently sent out a campaign brochure. In it, Jordan states that Legistats gives Joel and Walter McNutt F-Ratings. Joel certainly has some pretty good company. Upon a vote of our electorate, Walter McNutt served us for 16 years. We would be in a much worse place without Walter McNutt’s leadership.

An F-rating with Legistats is really a badge of honor. An A-Rating requires no thinking, just vote what the computer program says. If we elect Brandon, all he will need to do is consult with Legistats on any piece of legislation. Legistats will tell him the vote he must cast to get an A-Rating. All he needs to do is flop, just like a domino.

We all want leaders and representatives who have convictions, generally similar to our own convictions. We don’t want our representative to be so entrapped to those they are beholden to that they cannot think and simply flop like a domino.

It is difficult to be a representative in this day in age; the wind is blowing both ways at the same time. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t on many issues. Whether Republican or Democrat it is important for our representative to be able to assess the issues, think the facts thoroughly through, and vote the issues in the best way their conscience leads them, regardless of liberal/conservative, republican/democratic bend;-- and vote in a manner best in line with the best interests of the whole of the community they represent.

Please join me in voting for Joel and return your ballot by June 2, 2020.

Donald L. Netzer

Dear Editor:

When we step into the ballot box every election, we try to have studied the issues and the positions of the candidates so that we cast our vote for the person who will most consistently represent our admittedly Republican views and values: limited government and a judicial system based on a literal interpretation of the US Constitution, fiscal conservatism, religious liberty and freedom of speech, the value of human life at every stage, and the family as the basic unit of society.

Having carefully considered the commentaries/editorials in local newspapers regarding the race for representative in HD 35, it puzzles us that the incumbent, Mr. Joel Krautter, is garnering support from certain individuals whose views seem to tend toward the left—both Democrats and Republicans—but who at the same time assure us that he is conservative. They seem to be doing their utmost to make it appear that Mr. Krautter is only demonstrating bi-partisanship.

The issues that come before the state legislature are often complex and a certain percentage of them are non-partisan, but most often there are very clear and well-defined differences of opinion—primarily along party lines—regarding a majority of the proposed legislation that is submitted for a vote. If a legislator is known for voting with the opposite party more often than he votes with his own party, doesn’t it make you wonder if he is truly representing the people who elected him and the party with which he is affiliated? It is very commendable that Rep. Krautter has, in most cases, voted to support Life and oppose abortion. However, if he labels himself a conservative, why has he voted in favor of socialized medicine/healthcare and expansion of government programs, as well as increased government regulations, taxation, and spending?

We also find it puzzling how often those who bring up a candidate’s voting record are accused of making vicious, personal attacks against that person. It appears that truth has fallen on hard times and trying to hold a candidate accountable for his or her voting record is considered politically incorrect. The way a legislator votes on every bill that comes up is a matter of public record; how better can one determine if the person they elected is representing them well and faithfully? A voting record is not a matter of opinion it is a matter of fact.

Candidate Brandon Ler was born and raised in rural Eastern Montana, as were his parents. We’ve observed him as a neighbor, growing up attending local schools and churches, and deeply involved, as were our kids, in the 4-H program. This young man is not a silver-tongued lawyer, but throughout his adulthood he has been a hard and honest worker and devoted family man, demonstrating initiative, responsibility, and reliability. Brandon has shown a willingness to serve his community as a school board member. He has also been very active and interested in the political process, devoting a great deal of time and commitment to his responsibilities as a member of the Richland County Republican Central Committee, supporting state and national conservative candidates and causes. He understands our moral and religious framework, our way of life and our political views.

During this primary election we will cast our vote for Representative for Brandon Ler, with the confident expectation that he will stand up for conservative values and will represent us in a way that is consistent with the political philosophy and positions of the Republican party. We encourage you to do the same—vote Brandon Ler for state Representative, H.D. 35!

Dwight & Diana Thiessen

Dear Editor:

Joel Krautter and Brandon Ler

It’s no secret that Richland County, and all of Eastern Montana, faces tough challenges in the Montana Legislature. Out-numbered and out-represented by Western Montana, we have to work doubly hard to ensure that we don’t always receive the short end of the legislative stick each session. As the race between Joel Krautter and Brandon Ler comes to a short end, it’s clear that two different approaches to this legislative challenge present themselves.

The first approach is illustrated by Rep. Joel Krautter. His strategy is to coalesce with as many Western Montanan legislators as possible, no matter their policies or parties, in order to “get back” what Richland County has coming to us. This means voting on legislation that more times than not raises taxes on the entire state exponentially only to “get back” pennies on the dollar of that increased revenue for Richland County. In the end, Richland County has a few more pennies to spend, albeit we – along with the rest of the state – are taxed dollars more. The pennies-for-dollars trade-off rarely matters to those whose only bottom line is how much money is sent from Helena to Sidney and never considered is the amount of money sent from Sidney to Helena. In order to “get back” a few pennies from Helena, Krautter has voted to raise tax after tax after tax – from increasing hotel taxes to taxing utility bills to Medicaid Expansion (that Richland County overwhelmingly rejected in 2018). This strategy always provides Western Montana with many millions more in government pork and throws crumbs at Eastern Montana by comparison, while raising the tax burden of everyone.

The other approach is illustrated by Brandon Ler and the current stock of legislators from Eastern Montana – all of them Ler’s supporters – including Steven Hinebauch, Rhonda Knudsen, Alan Doane, and the former Speaker of the House, Austin Knudsen. Their approach is to form a coalition with Eastern Montana legislators as a voting block large enough it cannot be denied or ignored by the rest of the Legislature. If they stick together, they can block big government bills that will raise taxes and ensure that our area’s needs are represented well and that whatever funds are disbursed are disbursed fairly.

Joel Krautter doesn’t seem to have a single friend in the Montana legislature in Eastern Montana, and he regularly lauds his ability to work with Western Montana legislators to “get things done.” And in fact, Western Montana is exactly where Krautter got 94% of his campaign contributions in 2019. Are we really to believe that Western Montana legislators have Eastern Montana’s best interests at heart?

As a county commissioner I work overtime to ensure that we get every dime coming to us from the state coffers. But part of a legislator’s job is to ensure that our pockets aren’t robbed at home in order to fill those coffers. This part of Rep. Krautter’s job seems lost on him. If there’s a bill that will raise taxes on Montana, it’s a safe be that Krautter will vote for it. If there’s a bill that will lower taxes, it’s a safe bet that Krautter will vote against it. This is why he recently received a 56% score in conservatism from the American Conservative Union. Ultimately, Richland County will have to decide if higher taxes and more entitlements is what’s best for Richland County. Joel Krautter says that’s what we need. I suggest we need a legislator who will cut spending and cut taxation…and that won’t be Joel Krautter.

Duane Mitchell

Sidney, MT

Dear Editor,

In my opinion, this House District 35 race has turned into a bitter personal battle between former legislator Walt McNutt and Pastor Jordan Hall. Please, please look past this. To them, we citizens are just pawns in this bloody battle. Don’t let this turn into a race between Walt and Jordan. Look at the candidates. Look at Representative Krautter’s voting record. Call them. Discuss issues with them.

As for me, I am supporting Brandon Ler. He was raised conservative and will remain that way in Helena. He grew up in Richland County, and was active in 4-H with my children. He has lived a hardworking, tax paying life running a fencing business and working in the oil field to pay his family’s bills. To me, he has the perspective to vote right for the people of Richland County.

He won’t thumb his nose at the republican leadership on key votes. With the divide in the Republican Party, house leadership is emasculated and left hanging in the wind as deals are cut that continue to grow government, increase taxes, expand socialized medicine, the list goes on.

I ask you please join me and my family in voting for Brandon Ler for House District 35.

Sincerely, Scott Staffanson

Former Representative for House District #35


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