Félix W. Ortiz

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Félix W. Ortiz (born November 2, 1959 in Puerto Rico) is an American politician, currently representing New York's 51st Assembly District. He is a Democrat and currently serving as Assistant Speaker of the New York State Assembly.[1]

Early life[edit]

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.[2]


  • Felix W. Ortiz III (Technology Entrepreneur & US Army Veteran),
  • Felix A. Ortiz,
  • Daniel F. Ortiz Sr

Political career[edit]

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.[3]

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.[4] Ortiz said he was inspired to introduce the bill after his father suffered a heart attack due to high blood pressure.[5] 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,"[6] and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who called the bill "ridiculous".[7] The proposal also earned Ortiz the title of "Nanny of the Month" for March 2010 from Reason.tv.[8] 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".[7]

Ortiz, who was first elected to the assembly in 1994, is known for fighting for progressive public policies. He has passed legislation in areas of worker rights and safety, obesity prevention, banning the use of cell phones while driving and advocating for increases in organ donations.[1]

In 2000, he sponsored one of the first pieces of legislation in the country banning the use of hand-held cell phone while driving, a bill that the New York State Legislature eventually passed.

Ortiz, who has worked with First Lady Michelle Obama on obesity prevention measures, also introduced legislation mandating that fast food restaurants post calories counts for food items on their menus.

The calorie counts are now standard practice at fast food eateries.

During his 20-year tenure in the assembly, Ortiz has served as chair of several committees and legislative task forces including Cities, Veterans Affairs, Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Food, Farm and Nutrition and the Legislature’s Puerto Rican and Hispanic Task Force.[1]

In addition to Ortiz’s assembly leadership role, he has served on the Executive Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and serves as co-chair of the NCSL Task Force on International Relations. He is the former chairman of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) and is a member of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus. In February 2015 Assemblyman Ortiz was appointed Assistant Speaker of the New York State Assembly. He is making history by becoming the first Hispanic to hold the title of Assistant Speaker.[1]


External links[edit]

New York Assembly
Preceded by
Javier A. Nieves
New York State Assembly, 51st District