In May of 2009, Vermont lawmakers passed a law — which then-Gov. Peter Shumlin signed — requiring the statewide gas tax to be adjusted quarterly. It changes every New Year’s Day, every April Fool’s Day, every July 1 and every October 1 based on the prior quarter’s average price at the pump.

“So in April, May and June, as every motorist knows, the wholesale cost of gasoline and the retail cost of gasoline went up,” Vermont Fuel Dealers association executive director Matt Cota said. “That price at the pump that we experienced in the last three months is now being experienced as an increase in the gas tax for the next three months, and that starts on July 1.”

The gas tax is going up on Friday by 4.36 cents per gallon to a total of 36.96 cents per gallon. Should prices at the pump go down in the next three months, the gas tax will likewise go down in October.

“Because this is based in law — a law that was passed more than a decade ago — there is very little that the gasoline marketers or even the legislature can do, because the legislature’s not in session,” Cota said.

Several notable new laws are coming onto Vermont’s books on Friday as the 2023 fiscal year begins. One of them is a school support measure for tens of thousands of children.

Just after the pandemic began in March of 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture set up a universal schools meals program nationwide. Its federal funding ran out Thursday night. A new law sets aside $29 million to keep the program going in the green mountain state.

“All public school students will be able to go to school every day and know that they can get breakfast and lunch as part of their school day,” Hunger Free Vermont executive director Anore Horton said. “And they don’t have to worry, and their families don’t have to worry, about paying,”

However, the clock is still ticking for the program in Vermont. The new state law only sustains it for one year.

“It was very difficult to determine what the actual cost of operating a universal school meals program statewide would be, because we’ve never done it before,” Horton said. “There’s going to be some studies (included as part of the new law) about the actual cost and also potential sustainable funding sources for the future.”

A compromise background check bill for Vermont gun buyers also takes effect Friday. It extends the maximum wait time from three days to seven while banning firearms from hospitals.

In another legal change, the Village of Essex Junction will break away from the Town of Essex on Friday and become a city. It’s the first Vermont community to do this since Winooski broke away from Colchester a century ago.