- Associated Press - Monday, January 16, 2017

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The New Hampshire Senate is preparing to take its first round of action on key legislation.

The 24-member body meets Thursday for its first regular voting day of the session. They’ll take up just 11 bills, but several will spark heated debate.

On the agenda are bills known as right to work and concealed carry. The New Hampshire Right to Work Act would bar public and private unions from requiring people to pay union dues. Republican Sen. Sharon Carsonhas voted against a right-to-work bill in the past. But a yes vote from the remaining 13 Republicans would be enough to pass the bill.

The other key GOP bill would remove the licensing requirement for carrying a concealed gun. A similar bill made it to former Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan’s desk last session, but she vetoed it. With Republican Gov. Chris Sununu now in office, it’s near certain to become law.

Taking up these items now will give Republicans an early victory on the party’s core issues.

Other items on the Senate’s agenda include bills to slightly modify the state’s medical marijuana law. One removes restrictions on which hepatitis C patients are eligible and another expands the law to include people with severe pain who haven’t responded to previously prescribed medication or surgical measures.

The House of Representatives isn’t gathering for session this week. Committees will be meeting all week to take public testimony and work on dozens of bills. Senators will also continue to conduct hearings. Lawmakers have hundreds of bills to deal with this year.

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