3 To Know: More than 20 million Americans are behind on their utility bills

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Multiple rows of electric meters on a panel.

1. More than 20 million Americans are behind on their utility bills

More than 20 million households – about 1 in 6 American homes – are currently behind on their utility bills, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA) as reported by Bloomberg. 

The NEADA said those households owe a combined $16 billion in unpaid utility bills, double the pre-pandemic total. The average balance owed has climbed 97% since 2019, to $792, according to the NEADA. 

Mostly to blame, according to Bloomberg, is a surge in electricity prices, propelled by the soaring cost of natural gas.

Household electricity charges in the U.S. were up 15.2 percent year-over-year in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index. 

Natural gas prices are up 30.5 percent over that same period. 

USA Today reached out to NEADA for comment on their numbers. – Katie Wedell/USA Today

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2. Mail carrier dies after being attacked by five dogs in rural Florida, authorities say

A U.S. Postal Service carrier in rural Florida was killed after being attacked by five dogs when her vehicle broke down, authorities say. 

In a news conference, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office announced that 61-year-old Pamela Jane Rock died in the hospital Monday, a day after a vicious attack that saw several neighbors – and the animals' owners – try to fend off the dogs.

"One neighbor brought his firearm along and fired several shots in the air in an attempt to disrupt the attack," Putnam County Sheriff's spokesman Joseph Wells said at the news conference. "That was unsuccessful."

Rock was attacked near Palatka, a small Florida city 45 miles from Jacksonville. 

When police arrived at the scene Sunday, they found the dogs behind a fence and Rock bleeding. Officers applied tourniquets to stem the loss of blood, but during the drive to the hospital, Rock went into cardiac arrest. She died the next day.

A local statute says owners may be held liable if they know their dogs are dangerous but fail to exercise due caution, Wells said. But the dogs were behind a fence and escaped, and the owner had cooperated with earlier calls to animal control. – Scott Gleeson/USA Today

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3. At 25, Maxwell Frost could be first Gen Z member elected to Congress

Progressive activist Maxwell Alejandro Frost, one of the first members of Gen Z to run for Congress, has won his Democratic primary in the Sunshine State.

Maxwell Frost, a Democrat, is running for the U.S. House to represent Florida's 10th Congressional District.

Frost, a 25-year-old gun control activist, won his party's nomination for U.S. House in Florida's 10th Congressional District and defeated nine other Democrats, including state Sen. Randolph Bracy and former U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown and Alan Grayson.

Frost will face off against Republican Army veteran Calvin Wimbish in November for the Orlando-based seat.

"Today's election is proof that Central Florida's working families want representation that has the courage to ask for more," Frost said in a statement. "I share this victory with the nurses, forklift drivers, teachers, caregivers, social workers, farmers, union organizers, cashiers, and other members of this vibrant community who supported this campaign."

Frost just qualifies for the age requirement to serve in the U.S. House. Twenty-five is the youngest age permissible by the Constitution.

This year's midterms mark the first election in which Gen Z members can run for congressional office. The Pew Research Center considers anyone born between 1997 and 2012 to be Gen Z. – Natalie Neysa Alund/USA Today

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