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Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, right, smiles Tuesday as friend Nola Zane of Willmar snaps his picture in the Senate chambers. Friends and family members filled the chambers and galleries as all 201 Minnesota lawmakers were sworn in. Gimse will chair the Senate Transportation Committee. Tribune photo by Don Davis

On first legislative day, smiles trump overwhelming challenges


If great challenges lead to great opportunities, as the old saying goes, state lawmakers have a whale of an opportunity this year. "There are fantastic opportunities out there," rookie Sen. John Carlson, R-Bemidji, said. He is one of 60 new legislators, mostly Republican, who took office Tuesday. Like many of the 201 lawmakers, Carlson brought family members along for the mostly ceremonial first day of the 2011 session, but he was thinking about the next few months.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.