In Maine, a governor is inaugurated every fourth January. Every two years, that governor offers a new budget proposal — a master plan for what state government should do.

But for my money, it’s the seating of a new Legislature that provides the sense of newness, the fresh start, that we all crave just as the sun finally turns toward spring, and the cold intensifies.

There may be legislatures like Maine’s, but if there are, I’m not familiar with them. Maine’s lawmakers could be unique in their need to respond to a citizenry’s high expectations without a salary to match.

In more populous states, lawmaking is a full-time job, just as with Congress. Maine has never been tempted in that direction, even though the Legislature became a larger and more expensive enterprise in the 1970s and ’80s.

House members, and senators, too, are nonetheless expected to be completely attentive to constituents, doing this job in addition to their other employment. Those who aren’t usually don’t get re-elected.

It might not work in other states, but it does here. We get far more than our money’s worth in terms of representation at the State House.

There are other provisions in the legislative joint rules that make this an unusually responsive body. One is the joint committee system, which allows members of the public to testify once on a single bill text, but be heard by both House and Senate members.

Another is the rule that, in the first year, any member may introduce a bill on any subject, and that bill will get a hearing in committee and a floor vote. If you ask your representative to sponsor a bill, and she does, you can be assured it will get a fair hearing.

In some capitals, including Washington, worthy proposals never get anywhere because a rules committee bottles them up, or a presiding officer refuses to call a vote.

I have found that, over the years, it doesn’t matter as much as one might think which party a legislator belongs to, or their age or gender. They are almost always willing to listen, and that is really all a voter-citizen can ask for.

This column is a bit of a new venture for me, too. By way of introduction, I edited these opinion pages from 1984-95, back when newspapers were more prosperous and the Internet was just a gleam on the horizon.

A lot has changed since then, but much has not. I still live in the circa 1805 farmhouse in West Gardiner where I moved three decades ago, and it’s become a lifetime project as well as a good place to write.

George Smith remains a fellow columnist here, and he never fails to thank me for facilitating his entry into the column-writing business longer ago than either of us cares to remember.

Newspapers are no longer my primary enterprise, but I’ve never stopped reading them, and nothing has come along to replace their unique role in the community.

It’s reassuring, too, to look over the roster of new legislative committee assignments and find friends and neighbors still among them.

Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, continues to distinguish himself, and he will have his hands full again on the Appropriations Committee. Few people in Augusta still remember, but Katz lost his first race for the Senate in 1982, when he was trying to succeed his father, Bennett Katz — a legendary figure who’s best known as the father of the University of Maine at Augusta.

Roger is undoubtedly a more seasoned and experienced attorney than he was back then, and we should value his role as a lawyer — after all, these are laws we’re writing, not just political broadsides.

Sen. Earle McCormick, R-West Gardiner, who lives just down the road from me and is also a local selectman, is co-chairing the Taxation Committee. It will be interesting to see how the committee handles Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s often-expressed desire to eliminate the state income tax — a tax that Bennett Katz was instrumental in adopting.

From a new generation, we have Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, who as an innovative farmer is well positioned to lead the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee in just his second term. Farming is one of Maine’s few growth industries, and it actually attracts young people to live in Maine. It will be fun to see what the committee can do to strengthen and nourish that trend.

Although the Legislature isn’t usually thought of that way, every session is an adventure, an opportunity to guide and improve the way we live in Maine.

Douglas Rooks of West Gardiner can be reached at [email protected].