When playing cards, the dealer shuffles the deck as a way to level the playing field and help ensure the outcome is fair. But in Springfield there’s a different sort of “shuffle” in play. Instead of leveling the playing field, the “Springfield Shuffle” actually stacks the deck for the majority party to ensure they can kill legislation they don’t like, while still proclaiming to the public that they supported it.
Here’s how the “Springfield Shuffle” works: The majority party in the House and Senate introduce similar bills on issues that are popular with the public and initially ensure each passes in its original chamber. But then they purposely block the Senate-passed bill in the House, and block the House-passed bill in the Senate so that neither bill can become law, but they can all still go home and tell their constituents that they supported and voted for the issue. This is one of Speaker Madigan’s favorite pieces of sleight of hand.
The latest good idea to fall victim to the “Springfield Shuffle” is redistricting reform.
Currently, the redrawing of Illinois House and Senate districts every ten years is a purely political process. The party in control purposely draws district boundaries in the way they believe will win their party the most legislative seats. Simply put, it allows legislators to pick their voters instead of the other way around.
Republicans have for years been proposing reforms to take politics out of the redistricting process, all of which have been blocked by Speaker Madigan at the Capitol or in the courts. This spring, with a vast majority of Illinoisans supporting such reforms, Madigan employed the “Springfield Shuffle.”
In the House, Democrats sponsored House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 58 which would create an independent Redistricting Commission to draw the House and Senate district boundaries. It passed the House on a vote of 105 to 7, but once it reached the Senate it was immediately buried in a sub-committee, never to be seen again. Meanwhile, Democrats in the Senate passed their redistricting reform plan through their chamber on a vote of 39 to 19 which was, of course, immediately buried in the Rules Committee upon its arrival in the House.
So, the result is that both bills die as intended, but Democrat lawmakers can still go home and tell families in their districts they sponsored/voted for redistricting reform. Shuffle completed. Illinois residents lose again.