The new year is here and with it come a host of new laws ranging from tax incentives for hiring to loan forgiveness grants for college graduates.

Beginning Jan. 1, Connecticut businesses can earn tax credits ranging from $500 to $900 for every new employee they hire. Businesses with 50 or fewer employees can earn a tax credit for each new hire; those with 50 to 100 employees earn a tax credit for at least five new hires; and those with more than 100 employees earn a tax credit for at least 10 new hires. The credits range from $500 for a new employee to $900 for hiring a veteran.

Another new law requires insurance companies to pick up the cost of the certain medical procedures.

Insurance companies must pay for a comprehensive ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of a woman's breast or breasts if a mammogram shows she has "dense" breast tissue; cover the cost of an annual colorectal cancer screening with no coinsurance, copayment, deductible or other out-of-pocket expense; cover testing to determine compatibility for bone marrow transplants (limited to one free test in a lifetime); and increase the maximum annual coverage for ostomy appliances and supplies from $1,000 to $2,500.

If you graduated in 2010 with a degree in a "green" program, you may be eligible to apply for special loan forgiveness grants to help chip away at your college debt.

As part of the loan forgiveness program, $3 million is being made available in loan forgiveness grants to any Connecticut resident who graduated on or after May 1, 2010, from a state college or university with a bachelor's degree in a field related to the promotion of clean energy, renewable energy or energy efficiency; reducing greenhouse gases or carbon emissions; or inventing, designing and applying chemical products and processes to eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances. The family contribution for the most recent full academic year cannot exceed $35,000, and students are eligible for a maximum loan of $2,500 per year for up to four years.

Fines for texting or talking while driving are increasing and the law now defines texting as a "serious traffic violation" which could lead to a person's license being suspended. The fines for talking or texting increase from $100 to $125 for the first offense; from $150 to $250 for the second offense; and from $200 to $400 for subsequent offenses.

However, the new cell phone laws also allow exemption in certain emergency situations for people to talk, text or read messages. Messages can be sent to an emergency response operator; hospital; physician's office or health clinic; ambulance company; fire department; or police department in an emergency.

For those looking to strike it rich in the new year by playing Powerball, then your chances of winning have increased at the cost of more expensive tickets.

As of Jan. 15, Powerball ticket prices will increase from $1 to $2 but the odds of winning will increase from 1 in 192 million to 1 in 175 million, according to the Associated Press. The number of Powerball numbers to choose from will also decrease from 39 to 35 and the starting jackpot increases from $20 million to $40 million.