Assembly Member Félix W. Ortiz
Felix W. Ortiz is the Assistant Speaker of the New York State Assembly. He was born and raised in La Playa de Salinas, Puerto Rico. In 1980, he became the first member of his family to move to the U.S. mainland. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration in 1983 from Boricua College and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from New York University in 1986. Ortiz served in the United States Army from 1986 to 1988.

In 1994, during his first week in office, he set out to address the human rights violations and unjust treatment of sweatshop workers. As a result of his efforts, the Speaker created a Subcommittee on Sweatshops and appointed Ortiz as Chair. With the help of the State Attorney General, Ortiz recovered back wages for unpaid workers that had been denied by factory owners. Assembly Member Ortiz continues to monitor labor and wage practices and workplace safety conditions.

In 2000, Ortiz achieved passage of a law to ban the use of hand held cell phones while driving a motor vehicle and subsequently another law banning texting while driving. His legislation was adopted by other states and has since saved countless lives. Most recently, Ortiz looked into the new Google Glass and similar devices to determine whether these computer devices are safe to use while operating a motor vehicle. Fox Business News featured Ortiz on this new computer hardware.

In 2001, Ortiz was appointed Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Food, Farm, and Nutrition Policy where he worked to provide farmers with economic relief. In 2002, he was able to enact a law requiring schools to purchase locally grown produce. This initiative led to students receiving daily fresh produce, increasing their awareness of better nutritional values.

Also in 2001, Ortiz led the fight to create New York’s first statewide Child Obesity Education Program law to ensure that nutritionally based education programs are part of classroom curricula. In 2004, he passed a law to create five eating disorder centers across the state to help those who suffer from illnesses including anorexia and bulimia. His obesity and diabetes fighting initiatives were recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama. As a result, his obesity concepts became part of the Affordable Care Act.

Last year, as Chair of the Cities Committee, Ortiz toured all 62 cities across the state. After his visits, Ortiz introduced legislation to create a $2 billion Bond Act to repair the state’s aging and decaying infrastructure including roads, bridges, tunnels, sewer systems, plumbing and electrical wiring. The proposal was strongly supported by the state’s mayors including Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Assistant Speaker Ortiz currently serves as a member of the Ways and Means, Rules, Corrections and Labor Committees. He is the past chair of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force and is an active member of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus. Throughout his tenure Ortiz has served as Chair of Cities, Mental Health, Alcohol and Substance Abuse, and Veterans Affairs Committees.

Assistant Speaker Ortiz serves as Vice-President of the Parliamentary Confederation of the Americas (COPA USA), Executive Board Member of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the Council of State Governments (CSG). He co-founded and served as President of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) and is an Ex-Officio Board Member of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).

Ortiz is nationally and internationally recognized as an elected official who is not afraid to tackle unpopular issues and forge solutions on behalf of the people he represents. His cutting edge legislation aims to not only improve the health and well-being of children, families and immigrants of New York State, but the health and well-being of the people of the United States of America.