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On first legislative day, smiles trump overwhelming challenges

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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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