Wisconsin state Capitol

 After last week's inauguration ceremonies, the state Legislature is set to go to work in a new climate of divided government.

Republicans maintained majorities in both houses of the Legislature in the November elections, but Democrat Tony Evers was elected governor, ending eight years of total GOP control of state government. 

As the Legislature launches the new session, party leaders recently announced their committee assignments, which will determine policy issues on which lawmakers will put much of their focus.

West-central Wisconsin legislators, all majority Republicans, will lead a number of committees.

On the Senate side, Sen. Kathy Bernier, R-Lake Hallie, will chair the Elections, Ethics and Rural Issues Committee and co-chair the Joint Survey Committee on Retirement Systems.

In the Assembly, chairmanships will be held by Reps. Warren Petryk of the town of Pleasant Valley on the Workforce Development Committee, Bob Kulp of Stratford on the Transportation Committee, James Edming of Glen Flora on the Labor and Integrated Employment Committee, Treig Pronschinske of Mondovi on the Consumer Protection Committee, Rob Stafsholt of New Richmond on the Sporting Heritage Committee, Rob Summerfield of Bloomer on the Medicaid Reform and Oversight Committee and Romaine Quinn of Barron on the Science and Technology Committee.

Quinn also will serve as the GOP's majority caucus vice chairman.

The Colleges and Universities Committee, which could play a key role for a region with several public higher education institutions, includes five area members: Summerfield, Stafsholt, Quinn, Petryk and freshman Democrat Rep. Jodi Emerson of Eau Claire.

Rep. Shannon Zimmerman, R-River Falls, has been named to the powerful Joint Finance Committee.