Hewes proposes drug testing for welfare recipients

By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press

JACKSON — Republican state Sen. Billy Hewes says if he’s elected lieutenant governor, he’ll push to require drug testing for any Mississippi resident receiving welfare or unemployment benefits.

The proposal is part of a policy agenda Hewes unveiled Wednesday.

His opponent in the Aug. 2 Republican primary, state Treasurer Tate Reeves, says he agrees with drug testing for people on public assistance. Reeves is questioning why Hewes hasn’t already tried to push it into law, since Hewes has been in the Legislature 20 years.

Hewes says he wants to repeal the inventory tax, strengthen vocational training in high schools and consolidate administrative functions for state agencies.

Reeves says his priority would be job creation. He says the inventory tax hurts Mississippi, but local governments worry about losing money if it’s repealed.