State Senator Jay Costa was elected in a special election in April 1996. He is now serving his fifth full term representing the City of Pittsburgh, East Hills communities, areas of the Mon Valley and South Hills (43rd District).
As a lifelong resident of Allegheny County, Sen. Costa was born and raised in Pittsburgh and now lives with his wife Roxanne in Forest Hills. He has three children – two sons and one daughter. He is the son of the late Allegheny County Treasurer Jay Costa Sr. A graduate of Taylor Allderdice High School, Community College of Allegheny County (A.S. 1977), and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (B.A. 1979), he has a Juris Doctorate from Duquesne University (1989).
Before his election to the Senate, Sen. Costa was a deputy sheriff in Allegheny County and Allegheny County Register of Wills. He is currently a shareholder in the downtown Pittsburgh law firm Grogan Graffam P.C.
Sen. Costa was elected Senate Democratic leader in 2010. Previously, he served as Democratic chair of the Senate Appropriations and Judiciary Committees and was Caucus chair. He co-chairs the General Assembly’s Arts and Culture Caucus and is Democratic chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.
Sen. Costa’s legislative record of accomplishment is long and features signature laws in the areas of education, family law, judicial reform, public safety, job creation and health care.
Early in his career, Sen. Costa prime sponsored the plan (FAIRx) to leverage rebates to lower drug costs for seniors – a concept later signed into law by Gov. Ed Rendell. He was a strong supporter of expanding the nationally-recognized CHIP program and Medicaid. He also authored legislation to direct cooperative agreements between insurers and providers as a means to resolve the Highmark/UPMC coverage dispute.
Applying his background in family law, he was able to push a proposal (Act 186) that allows pooled trust funds to serve individuals with disabilities. Sen. Costa successfully encouraged other court reforms – sponsoring proposals to improve diversity in jury pools (Act 37) and provide certified interpreters for deaf, hearing impaired and those with limited English proficiency (Act 172).
A strong commitment to job creation led Sen. Costa to support key initiatives relating to economic development in the Pittsburgh area. He led the effort for robust transportation funding (Act 89), and backed new stadiums for Pittsburgh (Act 1) and tax credits for riverfront development (Senate Bill 282).
A former deputy sheriff and Democratic chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Costa actively promoted public safety and security throughout his tenure in the Senate. He sought maximum penalties for burglary and burglary-related offenses (Act 122) and worked to halt ordinances that penalize residents who call for emergency assistance – particularly in domestic violence situations (Act 200). Sen. Costa supported upgrades to child protection laws and the reporting of child abuse. He authored a law calling for life sentences for those who commit rape when serious injury occurs to victims under 13 years of age.
Sen. Costa toughening a law that imposed penalties for school bus drivers that exceed fixed blood alcohol levels and enhanced penalties for those who drive under the influence with a minor in the vehicle (Act 24). Recently, he championed a new law (Act 70) that adds protections for construction and public safety workers in highway work zones.
Over the course of his legislative career, Sen. Costa has been a strong, effective promoter of education. From seeking additional funding for K-12 education, higher education and pre-school he is recognized as one of the General Assembly’s leaders for education. In addition to accessing more funding for schools, he sought new state-of-theart technologies for the classroom, in addition to sponsoring far-reaching property tax relief proposals.
Beyond his legislative work, Sen. Costa serves on board of trustees of the University of Pittsburgh and is treasurer of the Community College of Allegheny County board. He also is on the boards of the Catholic Charities Free Health Care Center, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Sen. John Heinz History Center, 3 Rivers Wet Weather, Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative, CLO, Forest Hills Community Development Corporation and a lifetime trustee of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
Updated December 2015