Gov. Chris Gregoire will sign a measure legalizing gay marriage in Washington state into law on Monday. The House passed the bill on a 55-43...

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Gay-marriage bill to be signed Mon.

Gov. Chris Gregoire will sign a measure legalizing gay marriage in Washington state into law on Monday.

The House passed the bill on a 55-43 vote on Wednesday. The Senate approved the measure last week. Gregoire will sign the bill at 11:30 a.m. Monday.

The law would take effect 90 days after the session ends next month, but opponents have promised to fight back with a ballot measure that would allow voters to overturn it.

If opponents gather enough signatures to take their fight to the ballot, the law is put on hold pending the outcome of a November election. They must turn in more than 120,000 signatures by June 6 to challenge the proposed law. An anti-gay-marriage initiative has also been filed. To qualify, 241,153 signatures must be submitted by July 6.


Suit filed to block fish-hatchery plan

Four conservation groups filed suit on Thursday against the federal government and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, seeking to block a fish-hatchery program planned to help restock the Elwha River as two dams are removed.

The groups argue that the hatchery plan violates the Endangered Species Act and undermines the recovery of native salmon, according to a news release.

The hatchery plan calls for the release of about 4 million juvenile salmon into the Elwha River each year, including during a five-year fishing moratorium. The lawsuit argues, among other points, that those releases will hamper wild-fish recovery.

Wild Fish Conservancy, The Conservation Angler, the Federation of Fly Fishers Steelhead Committee, and the Wild Steelhead Coalition have brought the suit against the Olympic National Park, NOAA Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and representatives of the tribe.

The removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams, starting last summer, will open up 70 miles of fish habitat.


Man killed in house fire

Fire investigators in Pierce County say a man was killed Thursday morning in a house fire in the 5800 block of 48th Avenue East near Puyallup.

According to Randy Stephens, spokesman and assistant fire chief for Central Pierce Fire and Rescue, investigators found one victim, a 70-year-old man. Initially, firefighters feared there could be a second victim, but it turned out she had already left for work.

The initial call came in at 7:30 a.m. By the time firefighters arrived, the house was fully engulfed in flames.


State paying $3M to settle lawsuit

Washington state has agreed to pay $3 million to a developmentally disabled woman who was raped in 2008 by another patient at a state psychiatric hospital.

The settlement approved Thursday avoids a trial set for this spring on the patient’s lawsuit.

The Department of Social and Health Services says it believes the money fairly compensates the victim, who was attacked at Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake, southwest of Spokane.

The woman’s lawyer, David Moody, says her lawsuit involved claims that officials violated the woman’s civil rights by allowing a patient with a history of violence and criminal activity “to roam free” on hospital grounds.

Director of State Hospitals Jess Jamieson says, “We try our best to ensure that our vulnerable patients are kept safe.” DSHS notes that patients in state psychiatric hospitals do not live in locked cells.


192 get sick after attending event

A Washington state Health Department spokesman says there have been at least 192 reports of illness among people who attended a state cheerleading tournament last weekend in Everett.

Symptoms included vomiting and diarrhea.

Spokesman Tim Church said Thursday that most people have recovered. Thirty of those who fell ill have sought medical treatment.

The cause of the illnesses is still under investigation.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association hosted the Feb. 4 competition at Comcast Arena. More than 3,000 people attended and more than 1,000 people in 52 squads competed in cheerleading, dance and drill events.

The Health Department says intestinal illnesses can be caused by several viruses and bacteria that can come from a variety of sources.

Quinault Indian Nation

Tribe closes beaches to public

The Quinault Indian Nation has closed all beaches to public access along its reservation on the Washington coast.

The beaches extend along about 30 miles of coastline between the Moclips River and Queets.

The Daily World reports ( the decision was made after a Quinault business committee meeting last month when concerns were raised about unauthorized use of beaches. The tribe had issued permits but is suspending the pass system while the policy is reformed.

A notice in the tribe’s paper said signs will be posted at entry points saying access is granted to Quinault tribal members only.


Light-rail study ready for launch

Sound Transit appears ready to launch a $24 million engineering study and public outreach for a Federal Way light rail, after its capital-projects committee unanimously endorsed the plan Thursday.

Transit-board member Pete von Reichbauer and state Sen. Tracey Eide, both of Federal Way, propose designing a “shovel ready” train corridor from Highline Community College to the downtown Federal Way Transit Center. Doing so would boost the odds of funding the line with federal grants or a future local ballot measure. A voter-approved ballot measure in 2008 promised to reach north Federal Way, but transit officials say going beyond the college is unaffordable, because of low sales-tax revenues.

“This is about more than just one city,” said von Reichbauer. Residents of Kent, Des Moines, Fife and even northeast Tacoma would use the stations someday, he said.

The full Sound Transit board is expected to approve the study in two weeks.


Truck stolen while owner asleep in it

A man sleeping in the bed of his truck woke to its being stolen early Thursday morning.

The truck was parked at the Capital Medical Center parking lot, 3900 Capital Mall Drive S.W.

Olympia police say the man was able to call police at 1:14 a.m. and give updates on his whereabouts with his cellphone. Dispatchers used GPS from the man’s cellphone signal to help locate the stolen pickup.

The suspect drove the truck north on Highway 101 and later stopped on Fagergren Road in Mason County, where he got out and went to the back of the truck wielding a knife.

The truck’s owner ran from the back of the truck to a nearby house. The suspect left with the truck, described as a silver 1989 Toyota pickup with a brown canopy with Washington plates, license No. B59457N.

Anyone with information can call the Olympia Police Department at 360-753-8300, or the Thurston County Area Crime Stoppers at 360-493-2222.

Times staff and news services