Sunset Park

Ortiz named assistant assembly speaker

February 9, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Assemblymember Felix Ortiz has been chosen by new Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie to serve as his assistant speaker. Photo courtesy Ortiz’s office

Brooklyn will have a seat at the table when important decisions are being made in the New York State Assembly

Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie has named Assemblymember Felix W. Ortiz (D-Sunset Park-Bay Ridge) to serve as assistant assembly speaker, making him the second highest ranking person in the legislative chamber.

Ortiz becomes the first Hispanic to hold the title in assembly history.

“This is a big deal for Brooklyn,” a political observer told the Brooklyn Eagle on Monday. “It puts Felix in a position to really deliver for Brooklyn and it make sure Brooklyn’s voice is heard.”

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.

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 Michele 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.

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.

Ortiz received his Master’s Degree in Public Policy from New York University. Prior to running or public office, he served as a senior budget analyst in the New York City Office of Management and Budget and as an administrative manager for the Bronx borough president’s budget bureau.