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Former LeFlore County lawmaker Jim Hamilton dies at age 83.

Jim Hamilton

Jim Hamilton

James Edward “Jim” Hamilton, a former state lawmaker who sponsored constitutional changes that limit state spending, died Thursday in Rogers, Arkansas. He was 83.

“Jim Hamilton was a fiscal conservative who sponsored the constitutional amendment that created Oklahoma's constitutional `Rainy Day Fund,'" said Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin. "He also drafted the language in the state's balanced budget amendment to the state constitution, which placed a cap on the growth of state government."

Fallin said she enjoyed serving with Hamilton in the House and her "thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

Hamilton was a Le Flore County Democrat who had a law office in Poteau, where he practiced for nearly 50 years.

He was preceded in public service by his father, Clem, who died of a heart attack in 1967 during his 17th year in the Senate.

Jim followed his father into office and rose to become the state Senate's top leader in 1973. He later took a break from service, but came back to serve 14 years in the House, including eight years as chairman of the powerful Appropriations and Budget Committee.

A stickler for details, Hamilton wasn't shy about seeking changes in bills he thought could be improved, a trait which sometimes irritated other lawmakers.

"If the 10 commandments came out of a committee, Jim Hamilton would amend them," a lawmaker once told The Oklahoman.

Hamilton embraced that role.

"Democracies ought to be cumbersome," he once told a reporter. "When they're not cumbersome, when just a few people can establish through a small minority what changes should be brought about, it sets the framework for some bad legislation and bad government."

Funeral services will be 2 p.m. Sunday at the First Baptist Church in Heavener. Burial will follow in Heavener Memorial Park under the direction of Dowden-Roberts Funeral Home of Heavener.

Randy Ellis

For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two... Read more ›

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