HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Some of the biggest political news of the year came straight out of the Yellowhammer State.

News 19 reported multiple political stories throughout the year, and compiled a list of the most impactful stories for the state of Alabama.

Longtime U.S. Senator Richard Shelby retires after 36 years

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., talks with reporters while walking to a vote on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 27, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Alabama’s longest-serving member of the U.S. Senate — Richard Shelby — cast his final vote in the upper chamber and delivered his farewell speech this year. He previously announced his intent to retire in February 2021.

First elected in 1986 as a Democrat, Shelby has represented Alabama in the U.S. Senate for 36 years. He switched to the Republican Party in 1994. During his tenure, Shelby held leadership roles on many committees, including Appropriations, Intelligence, Banking, and Rules and Administration.

Prior to his service in the Senate, he served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and two terms in the Alabama Senate.

In his final speech, Shelby said, “I want to thank the people of Alabama for electing me 12 times to public office. It has been the honor of my lifetime.”

Read the full story here.

Women win big races statewide — and Katie Britt becomes the state’s first elected female U.S. Senator

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Katie Britt speaks to supporters after securing the nomination during a runoff against Mo Brooks on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Women won big in Alabama’s midterm elections.

The state’s first Republican female governor, Kay Ivey, earned a second full term, both DeKalb and Marshall counties elected their first female district attorneys, and Kim Edgil Jones became Lauderdale County’s first female coroner. 2022 was also the first year that both major parties nominated women for governor.

Alabama also elected its first female U.S. Senator in Katie Britt, a one-time aide to Richard Shelby and former president of the Business Council of Alabama.

“I am truly honored and grateful for your support, confidence, and trust,” Britt wrote on Twitter after claiming victory. “This is just the beginning of what we can accomplish together. Let’s get to work!”

Read the full story here.

Legislature passes permitless carry bill

(Adobe Stock)

A new law passed during Alabama’s most recent legislative session allows gun owners to carry a concealed firearm without a permit — and it takes effect on January 1, 2023.

The bill was passed by the Alabama House of Representatives on a 70-29 vote and the Alabama Senate on a 24-6 vote earlier this year. It was signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey on March 10.

Despite cheers from lawmakers that voted to pass the measure, the bill was opposed by the Alabama Sheriffs Association, Association of County Commissions of Alabama, the Alabama Association of School Resource Officers, and several local law enforcement agencies.

Read the full story here.

Former President Trump revokes Mo Brooks endorsement in U.S. Senate race

FILE – Mo Brooks, a candidate for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate, speaks to supporters at his watch party May 24, 2022, in Huntsville, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt, File)

U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks both earned and lost the endorsement of former President Donald Trump during the 2022 election cycle.

Trump initially backed Brooks’ bid for the U.S. Senate in April 2021. However, in March, Trump pulled his endorsement, saying “When I endorsed Mo Brooks, he took a 44-point lead and was unstoppable. He then hired a new campaign staff who ‘brilliantly’ convinced him to stop talking about the 2020 election.”

In June, Trump announced his new endorsement for the race’s eventual winner: Katie Britt.

Read the full story here.

Alabama rolls out medical cannabis program

FILE- A cannibis plant that is close to harvest grows in a grow room at the Greenleaf Medical Cannabis facility in Richmond, Va., June 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) opened application requests that will allow people to grow, sell, and process marijuana for medical use in September.

Several municipalities also adopted ordinances in 2022, allowing for medical marijuana dispensaries in their respective cities or towns.

More than 100 applicants submitted paperwork to the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) for a license. The commission will make those applications public and begin accepting comments on April 13. Applicants will be approved for licenses on June 12.

Read the full story here.

Josh McLaughlin wins full term as Limestone County Sheriff

2021 brought a new sheriff to town in Limestone County — and in 2022, he won his first full term.

Limestone County Sheriff Josh McLaughlin, the office’s former chief investigator, was appointed by Governor Kay Ivey to his post in September 2021 after the conviction of longtime Sheriff Mike Blakely on theft and ethics charges. Blakely served in the role for nearly 40 years.

In November, McLaughlin won a full term in the office, earning 82.6 percent of the vote against Independent challenger Randy King’s 17.4 percent.

Read the story on McLaughlin’s initial appointment here.

Alabama Libertarians get full ballot access, first time in 20 years

(Getty Images) (Libertarian Party logo)

Alabama Libertarians looked for victory in 2022, and just narrowly fell short.

In 2022, the party earned full ballot access for the first time in 20 years with a full slate of more than 60 candidates running for office in Alabama. Many of those were right here in North Alabama.

In order to retain ballot access for the next election, Libertarians were required to get more than 20 percent of the vote in at least one statewide election. They failed to reach that threshold.

Read the full story here.

Lawmakers pass bill to ban gender confirmation treatment for transgender youth

A transgender flag being waved at LGBT gay pride march in this undated photo (Shutterstock via CNN)

Alabama lawmakers approved a bill earlier this year to ban gender confirmation treatments for transgender youth.

According to the Associated Press, lawmakers passed two measures, one to outlaw gender-affirming care for minors and another creating rules for school bathrooms and prohibiting sexual and gender identity from being taught through early classroom instruction. Governor Kay Ivey signed the bill in April.

The bill became opposed by many groups, including parents of transgender children, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and Democrats in the state legislature.

As of December 30, the law remained blocked. A ruling on this case is expected by March 2023.

Read the full story here.

Yolanda Flowers becomes first Black major party nominee for Alabama Governor

Among Alabama’s history makers in 2022 was Yolanda Flowers, an activist and retired educator, who became the first Black person nominated by a major party for Governor of Alabama.

Her victory message in the Democratic primary was simple, only tweeting, “We did it, Alabama! Thank you!”

Flowers was defeated by incumbent Republican Governor Kay Ivey in the general election, winning 29.2 percent compared to Ivey’s 66.9 percent.

Read the full story here.

Ala. House Speaker Mac McCutcheon retires after four terms

McCutcheon discusses race to replace him in State House

Alabama’s next legislative session will be without its top Republican after House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Huntsville) announced his intent to retire after four terms in the lower chamber.

While McCutcheon’s announcement came in June 2021, his final, and one of the most memorable, legislative sessions was earlier this year.

In February, McCutcheon told News 19, “It has hit me. Especially sitting in that chair in the chamber and watching members work.”

“You know I’ve been to all of the members’ districts,” he continued. “I’ve spent time with the members, I know their families and to know this is my last session, it’s a little bittersweet.”

Read the full story here.