Why lawmakers urge red and green lights

IMG_2327A member of the public listening to House and Senate floor hearings of the Montana Legislature needs to abide a lot of jargon–most of it due to Robert’s Rules of Order.

But the hearings are also steeped in their own tradition, and in the switch-box you see above creates its own mini-culture.

When speaking on the floor, lawmakers will often urge a ‘green light’ if they are in support of an issue and a ‘red light’ if they are opposed. Someone having never been in the House or Senate chambers may think this is a tired traffic metaphor. In reality, it’s far more literal.

When legislators vote on an issue, they either press the green button for ‘yea’ or the red button for ‘nay.’



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