Senate President Makes the Case for “Shared Leadership”

Massachusetts Senate President Stanley Rosenberg contrasted his leadership style with that of his predecessors and other Beacon Hill heavyweights during a December 15 interview on campus, arguing that his philosophy of "shared leadership"—with its emphasis on engaging committee chairs and other Senate members in setting the body's agenda—has helped the Senate produce stronger legislation than it might have in a top-down environment.

“Leadership is guiding in my way of doing things, in my view of the world, as opposed to directing,” Rosenberg said.

Stanley Rosenberg on stage at Political Happy Hour

He made the comments during the sixth LIVE Political Happy Hour, presented by Suffolk University in partnership with the Boston Globe, which took place at Suffolk’s new 20 Somerset Street academic building.

The interview, conducted by Boston Globe reporter Joshua Miller, covered familiar topics such as the state’s ongoing opioid addiction crisis as well as esoteric procedural matters like Joint Rule 10 Day, extension orders, and chambers of origination.

Addiction prevention

Regarding addiction, Rosenberg noted that several measures related to the opioid epidemic already have been signed into law, including a bill criminalizing the trafficking of fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid, and funding for treatment programs and overdose-reversing drugs like Narcan.

Rosenberg said that both the Senate and Gov. Charlie Baker have turned their attention to preventing addiction, and he noted the importance of "reducing the number of pills in the initial prescription so we can reduce the number of pills on the street." Rosenberg said he was not sure when the House would take up one of the substance abuse prevention bills.

When more contentious topics arose, there was a playful tension between Miller and Rosenberg.

Asked why the supplemental budget that the Legislature passed in October did not include $10.9 million to fund pay raises at the University of Massachusetts, Rosenberg said that he could not say what actually happened—at least not on the record—and teasingly told Miller that it was his job as a journalist to find it out.

Marijuana ballot question

Miller then turned to a topic he has broached during all six LIVE Political Happy Hours: the 2016 ballot question that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. Rosenberg said he feels "conflicted" about the ballot question and has convened a special Senate committee to examine the issue more closely. He said he will consider that committee's research before taking a stance on the ballot question.

Pressed for a clearer opinion, Rosenberg turned the tables on his interviewer.

“Why are you so obsessed about marijuana?” Rosenberg joked. “Is there something we should to know?”

Showing true political skill, Miller dodged the question.

The next LIVE Political Happy Hour, an interview with Congressman Stephen Lynch, will take place in January.