AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new statewide health equity office is closer to becoming a reality for Texans.

House lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday that would reinstate the office that was created in 2010, but was stripped of its funding during the 2017 legislative session. It operated under several names over the years including the Office of Minority Health Statistics and Engagement, and dedicated employees focused on racial disparities in health care. 

It’s a story the KXAN investigative team has been following for months.

State Representative Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, filed the bill in March. He’s been fighting to bring the work back to the forefront for decades. He told KXAN the pandemic’s unequal effect on various populations based on factors such as race, socioeconomic status and region highlighted why the office is needed now more than ever.

The bill will now go to a Senate committee for a vote.