It was family and friends at the Minnesota state Capitol.
As new and veteran legislators returned for the beginning of a new session on Tuesday, they brought relatives, friends, family bibles and even their favorite jurist to recite the oath of office and take pictures.
Foung Hawj, a DFLer from St. Paul, posed with his wife, parents and an extended group of relatives and friends. He and other incoming senators took a ceremonial oath in a Capitol room before the official oath was administered on the floor of the Senate.
"As you can see, I brought diversity to the Capitol," said Hawj, a native of Laos who replaces John Harrington in the Senate. "I'm very happy that Minnesota decided to include us at the table."
Two other state senators surrounded by family and friends were Jeff Hayden and Bobby Joe Champion, both African-American senators from Minneapolis. Hayden will serve as a deputy majority leader, which he believes is a first for a state that has had few black legislators in its history.
Returning veteran Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, was sworn in by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Sandy Keith, 84, a Rochester native who headed the state Supreme Court in the 1990s.
Newcomer Bill Weber, R-Luverne, was looking forward to trying to educate legislators on the problems of border areas.
"We have far too many jobs and retired people crossing state lines because of our tax structure," Weber said.