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Seattle

Bus riders to enter

through front

Bus riders in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel will have to enter buses only through the front door from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, and exit through the back — to help transit officials time how long it takes to load passengers this way.

The time tests are meant to prepare for a major service change Sept. 29, when the free-ride zone downtown is eliminated, and riders throughout King County Metro Transit territory must pay when boarding.

Officials hope the changeover will reap more fare revenue, but it could increase the time a bus spends at downtown stops.

Seattle

Reward offered

in sea-lion deaths

The Sea Shepherds are offering a $10,000 reward to anyone providing information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who killed sea lions in Puget Sound.

Washington wildlife officials say eight sea lions have been found dead in the Puget Sound region in recent weeks — some apparently shot.

Anyone with information on the Puget Sound sea-lion deaths can call the NOAA National Enforcement Hotline at 800-853-1964, which is manned 24 hours a day.

Olympia

House panel OKs

same-sex marriage

A House committee on Monday advanced a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington state, and the Senate is expected to vote on its companion bill Wednesday.

The House Judiciary Committee approved its gay-marriage bill on a party-line vote, with seven Democrats voting for it and six Republicans voting in opposition.

Three Republican amendments were rejected, one of which would have added private businesses and individuals, such as bakers and photographers, to the religious exemption in the measure that doesn’t require religious organizations or churches to perform marriages, and doesn’t subject them to penalties if they don’t marry gays or lesbians.

Olympia

Moody’s lowers

state credit outlook

Another agency has changed the outlook for Washington’s debt ratings from stable to negative.

Moody’s Investors Service said in its rationale released Monday that the state faces challenges in fixing structural budget problems, noting that Washington faces a revenue shortfall at a time when other states are reporting no budget problems or only minor gaps.

On Friday, Fitch Ratings changed its outlook from stable to negative.

Moody’s has an Aa1 rating on Washington’s general obligation bonds, and Fitch’s rating is AA+. Each is one notch below the best possible rating.

South Seattle

Man badly burned

in mattress fire

A man who may have been living in an abandoned house in South Seattle suffered life-threatening burns in a fire about 4:30 a.m. Monday.

Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore said a neighbor called the fire department after seeing smoke coming from the basement of a house in the 3600 block of South Graham Street.

As firefighters were putting the blaze out, a man who had suffered burns came out of an adjacent structure, Moore said. He said indications are the man had accidentally started a fire in a mattress in the abandoned house and got out of the house before firefighters arrived.

Moore said the man, in his mid-30s, suffered second- and third-degree burns over about 50 percent of his body and is in critical condition.

Times staff and news services