Ortiz moved from Puerto Rico to New York City in 1980, becoming the first member of his family to move to the continental United States. He attended Boricua College, graduating in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. He received a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from New York University in 1986. Ortiz then joined the United States Army, serving from 1986 to 1988.
Ortiz was first elected to the assembly in November 1994, defeating incumbent Javier Nieves.
In 2000, Assemblyman Ortiz achieved passage of the nation’s first law to ban the use of hand held cell phones while driving a motor vehicle. In 2001, he introduced a bill that would lower the drinking age to 18; he cited unfairness and difficulty with enforcement as his motivations.
In March 2010, Ortiz introduced a bill, co-sponsored with assembly members Margaret Markey and N. Nick Perry, that would prohibit the use of all forms of salt in the preparation and cooking of all restaurant food. Ortiz said he was inspired to introduce the bill after his father suffered a heart attack due to high blood pressure. The bill quickly gained media attention, and prompted negative comments from New York chefs such as Tom Colicchio, who said a salt ban would mean "no one would come here anymore," and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who called the bill "ridiculous". The proposal also earned Ortiz the title of "Nanny of the Month" for March 2010 from Reason.tv. Responding to the outcry, Ortiz issued a statement saying that his intention was to have the bill only outlaw the use of salt "as an additive", not as "a functional component of the recipe".
Assemblyman Ortiz serves as President of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, Vice-President of COPA USA, Chair of the Labor and Workforce Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), and Executive Committee Board Member of the Council of State Governments (CSG). He is a former Chairman of the Assembly Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition. Currently he is the Chair of the Veterans' Affairs Committee.
- Felix Ortiz New York State Assembly biography
- Lovett, Kenneth. "LET KIDS START DRINKING AT 18: BROOKLYN POL." The New York Post, May 1, 2006.
- New York State Assembly bill A10129
- Assemblyman seeking to ban all salt in restaurant cooking, Steve Barnes, Times Union blog, March 10, 2010
- Brooklyn Dem Felix Ortiz wants to ban use of salt in New York restaurants, Samuel Goldsmith, New York Daily News, March 11, 2010
- Reports Of Salt's Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated, Elizabeth Benjamin, The Daily Politics, March 12, 2010
- Reason.tv: Nanny of the Month for March 2010 is Salt-Banning NY State Rep. Felix Ortiz!, Reason, April 1, 2010
- Assembly Member Website
- Gotham Gazette's Eye On Albany: New York State Assembly: District 51
- Biography: New York State Democratic Committee
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