AUSTIN (CBSNewsTexas) - Lt. Governor Dan Patrick presided over the Texas Senate Friday for the first time since pneumonia sidelined him for the past month.
In an exclusive interview at the Capitol Friday afternoon, Patrick said, "I feel fine. It's going to take me a little longer to get 100% energy. I'm back a long way from where I was."
His return comes as the issue of casino gambling is back in the headlines.
This week, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban sold a majority stake of the team to Miriam Adelson, who owns the Sands Corporation, a casino resort operator.
Cuban has said his goal is to build a new arena as part of a casino resort in downtown Dallas. But before any casino could open in Texas, it would require a change in the state's constitution.
The legislature would have to approve it, then voters.
The Patrick told CBS News Texas the Republican majority in the Senate doesn't support it.
"My experience and my knowledge is that we aren't even close to having 15 votes or 16 votes for casinos."
Bills supporting casinos and sports betting in Texas were rejected during this year's regular legislative session.
"When the session was over, there was not a cry from voters calling their senators or House members, gosh, we didn't pass, I needed this bill," said Patrick.
He said he has told casino operators they need to build support among individual House and Senate members and that it's not up to the governor, Speaker Dade Phelan or him. "Big things don't happen overnight. You got to get in the trenches and grind it out."
A recently filed lawsuit challenging last month's constitutional election threatens to delay property tax cuts and a cost-of-living increase for retired teachers that voters approved.
On Friday, the Senate proposed and passed a bill, SB 6, aimed at speeding up the court challenge.
Patrick said, "That would fix the situation."
According to the legislature's website, a similar bill wasn't filed in the House Friday.
Patrick blamed Speaker Phelan. "These constitutional amendments that will delay people's property tax cuts, retired teachers' money for one to two years until it's decided. This is all on Dade."
Last month, the House rejected taxpayer subsidies for students to attend private school. The Senate approved it, and Abbott has fought for it all year.
The fourth special session is set to end Wednesday. There's been a lot of talk about a fifth special session.
When asked if he supports Abbott calling another special session Patrick said, "I think we should continue to try. I don't think it would be a productive to come back now three weeks before Christmas. The House voted against school choice. I think the best time to come back would be February 5th."
That's 30 days before the Texas primary election.
Abbott has endorsed 58 House Republicans who voted to save the education savings accounts, but not the 21 House Republicans who voted to strip the education savings accounts from HB 1.
Patrick said the House should pass SB 2, a bill the Senate approved last month that would provide teachers with a pay raise and more money for schools. "Yes, it should be passed, and the Governor can decide what he wants to do."
Last month, Abbott threatened to veto an education bill that didn't include the ESA's.
When asked if he would support the legislature overriding an Abbott veto Patrick said, "We haven't been in that situation really. I believe that teachers should get a pay raise, period."
In a statement, Phelan blamed Patrick for playing games. "Texas school children, families, and teachers deserve better than this political gimmicks."
Patrick said, "The House is totally dysfunctional."
Both he and the Speaker have had very public disputes for months in which they exchange sharp criticism for one another.
Phelan is facing a challenge from two fellow Republicans for House District 21.
Patrick said he won't involve himself in the primary.
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