Sixteen months since being elected Senate President and beginning a process to empower the body's membership at the expense of centralized control, Stan Rosenberg says his leadership style is paying off, and he's looking toward finding solutions for the state's long term needs.

In a wide-ranging interview, the Amherst Democrat laid out what he sees as the agenda of the Senate - an ambitious effort to tackle tough policy issues over the long term.

In the short term, Rosenberg said, his approach has been to engage Senate members through their committee assignments to craft and and enact legislation. Here are some highlights of what the Senate President shared with WGBH News:

Rosenberg's leadership style differs from that of his colleagues in the House and it's harder on his members. In the House, Speaker Robert DeLeo and a small circle of close advisers and leaders seek - and achieve - nearly unanimous consensus on issues before allowing bills to be voted on.

Empowering rank-and-file members to shape policy, Rosenberg admits, is harder for everyone than a strong top-down system.

"It's harder work for everybody involved. It's a lot easier to have one person, or one or two very powerful forces, basically create a bill - and by the way you can create very good bills that way - but it's not the same as if the stakeholders are at the table and if the full-range of engagement is available to the members," Rosenberg said.

To get things done in a bicameral Legislature, with a governor checking and balancing laws, it takes three to tango. It's too early to say how much substantive legislation this session of the Legislature will end up putting on Gov. Charlie Baker's desk to become law, since so much lawmaking happens in the rush before the session recess for the year at the end of July.

Rosenberg said that too much work is compressed at the end of the term. He has been on record since taking over as hoping for a way to get more bills that originate in the Senate to his own chamber floor for votes instead of having to filter through the House first.

"Would I prefer a process that allows for more - for it to be spread out more? Absolutely. Absolutely," he said.

"I'd love to see a rule that says that a legislative committee will hear first the bills that made it through either branch in the last term," he said. Legislative turnover session to session would require another public hearing and full process, but Rosenberg believes that a good idea that made it through one branch the previous session should come first the next to better its odds of getting to the governor's desk.

Rosenberg is convinced of the success of what he calls "shared leadership," aiding senators to pursue policy solutions in areas in which they are most experienced and interested. When asked if his implementation of "shared leadership" has been successful, Rosenberg says yes.

"It's been successful and becoming and more successful as people understand inside the body and outside the body how to work with us in order to get the best possible products. Because it's really about the quality of the legislation and the quality of the experience of people who are going to be affected by the legislation and the experience of the senators who are elected to be leaders," Rosenberg says,

Rather than being "unfocused and all over the place," he says, the Senate works in groups that advocates and stakeholders know they can approach.

"You know how to get to the table and you know how to influence the process," he says.

Rosenberg said the Senate is focussed on a number of big-picture issues rather than committing to a limited number of "a-list" bills favored by leaders.

"We've been focusing on shared prosperity and opportunity, which is our way of talking about income inequality. We are focused on climate change, on criminal justice reform, transparency and civil engagement, to name four," Rosenberg said.

The Senate, Rosenberg said, is doing this by creating workgroups of senators and outside experts and stakeholders to come up with policy remedies for significant problems. Rosenberg calls these efforts "blueprints" to approaching big issues that will outlast specific sessions.

On housing, Rosenberg has signed off on a year-long effort to analyze the issues and investigate solutions.

"People are struggling to find appropriate housing that they need given their station in life and their circumstances in life. So we now have a plan that [Linda Dorcena Forry] and Sen. Chandler have put together with a group of some 40 people outside the Legislature, who had expertise in housing and housing development," Rosenberg said.

Likewise, the Senate's "kids-first initiative" is an even longer-term effort. He describes it as a multi-phase project to "identify the policies and programs that we need to institute or scale up so that every child in Massachusetts can be raised a resilient child and grow into a productive adult. And that blueprint will drive us forward to create this agenda that we will work on in the coming years."

Sen. Marc Pacheco has been working with fellow senators and other to find ways to "move people off public assistance and then up the economic ladder" by training them with job skills so they can achieve higher income.

One of his leadership role models is...Bill Bulger.

"I was here during Bill Bulger and you know, anybody who really knows how Bill Bulger ran the Senate knows that he relied on the committee chairs. Not that he didn't, when he had an opinion, express it and have some capacity to be influential, but most of the bills that came to the floor and got to the governor's desk got there because of the committee chair, the member who sponsored the bill and their ability to round up the votes," he said.

Rosenberg says he has had "a predilection towards decentralization and participation," his whole career, since working at UMass Amherst and then in the State House. He also sees former House Speaker George Keverian as a model and believes he was more effective as a leader than people believed.

"In terms of watching what's happened here since I've worked in the Legislature since 1980, I've taken bits and pieces that I've seen all along the years the best of what I've seen and tried to put it together into a coherent approach. A coherent, although different approach to doing the work," he says.

He certainly doesn't mind being on the more progressive side of tax issues when he and his members think it's the way to go.

"People know that I've been highlighting and pointing out that in contrast to what some people are saying it's only a [spending] problem... I'm saying that it's also a revenue problem and it's substantial revenue problem and the evidence is clear. You just have to look for it. It's there," Rosenberg said.

Which means that the proposed 4 percent additional tax on incomes over $1,000,000 could play a role in the Senate's plans, should it get to the ballot and pass.

Rosenberg calls the excise tax "a big piece of it but it's not the only piece and says there are antiquated portions of the tax code, old tax incentives that are now outdated, that should be overhauled.

"It's the next item up for debate and I'm expecting that we will have that debate. The Speaker and I have discussed it and there's no reason for me to think it's not going to happen," Rosenberg said.